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Original Recordings
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  • Sometimes this sextet spreads their sound so thin that they sound like the world's largest populated duo, and not every aspect of what made for an exotic, intriguing, or just plain freaky band in the late '60s still holds one's undivided attention years down the line. Nonetheless, leader Dan Hicks, later to dub himself an "acoustic music warrior," made a good case for himself on this, his debut recording as a bandleader and one that certainly helped put this band on the map, although at the time part of their popularity had to do with the wispy appearance of vocalists Sherry Snow and Christina Viola Gancher. Their contributions tend to sound weak upon repeated listening. Sometimes they are just plain out of tune with each other, a trait that one might forgive if their Western swing gambits paid off a little better. Violinist Sid Page plays just great on this record, though, and the efforts of bassist Jaime Leopold are in the right spot. The five-minute "I Scare Myself" is here in all its glory, one of this outfit's definite triumphs. The string players make a huge addition, but inevitably this is Hicks' show, with the leader often taking over half the rhythm section by overdubbing himself on drums. The presence of a dozen original tunes, all witty and stylistically expressive, and a few downright classics, speaks well for Hicks. Still, he doesn't seem to have figured out a good way to use his vocal sidekicks all the time, other than as scenery. ~ Eugene Chadbourne
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