Review: ‘Tex Pop’ and ‘Tucson’ – Freddie Steady

Two re-releases from Freddie Steady, a legend from Austin to London. He was a long-time member of Jerry Jeff Walker’s Gonzo Campadres, his band the Explosives backed psychedelic rebel Roky Erickson, he lived here in in the 80s (recording the splendid Lucky 7 album way down south, in Croydon) and his own psychedelic country bands the Shakin’ Apostles and Freddie Steady 5 have made a posse of wild and wonderful albums.

TEX POP, from 2007, is just that, the sort of music that Doug Sahm used to create, delicious tunes with an eclectic country edge, embellished with those sun-drenched keyboards. Lead guitarist is the elegant Cam King, also an Explosive (who didn’t do at all badly by getting a song on Garth Brooks’ second Christmas album) and there’s even Mark Andes, bassist from Quicksilver Messenger Service. Songs like What’s So Hard About Love scream ‘hit single’ while (I’m An) Armadillo has a playful edge.

TUCSON, from 1995, is a concept album, a ‘horse opera’, that’s since been transformed into a touring musical theatre event. There’s the title track with its string quartet, the rip-roaring Devil’s Hand (blistering guitar from Apostle and Jerry Jeff sideman John Inmon) and the delicate jangle of Treasure Of The Orient. Guests include former Joe Ely band members Lloyd Maines (pedal steel) and Ponty Bone (accordion) with Brit virtuoso Wes McGhee on Spanish guitar, embellishing the moody desert soundscape. A lasting classic.

By Nick Dalton

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