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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Randy Casey

1 Dollar or 1 Dead Smith

Review by Gary Hill

This is an effective disc that has some really shining moments. For my money, the opening title track might be the best thing here, but it seems to make some promises that most of the set doesn't deliver. I think that maybe putting it later in the sequence would allow the set to shine a little more. I found myself waiting for another powerhouse like that for the next couple songs, so it took a little while to lower my expectations to appreciate the rest of it. Then again, so many people these days just listen to one or two songs at a time, so it might be a moot point. There is quite a range of sounds here from country to rock, folk and more.

This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) form in Music Street Journal: 2022  Volume 4. More information and purchase links can be found at: garyhillauthor.com/Music-Street-Journal-2022.

Track by Track Review
1 Dollar or 1 Dead Smith

I love the driving hard rock sound that opens this thing. It strips back a bit for the vocals. I've always been a big fan of guitar fills that go on along with vocal lines, and this has that concept at play at various times. This is a vaguely punky rocker with a lot of style and charm. It's a great opener.

Sleep Deprivation
This is a huge change. It's more of country rocker. It's bouncy and fun, but definitely a let-down from the power of that opener. I dig the pedal steel guitar and some of the piano work, though.
You Look Like I Need a Beer
A fun tune, this has a lot of country at its heart. It has some rock in the mix along with that country angle.
No Dogs Allowed
More of a rock song, this has some folk in the mix. It's a solid tune, but not really a standout. That said, I like some of the chord choices here, and the hooks are good. The mellower dropped back section is classy.
Big Fish
A meaty folk rocker, this is dramatic and potent. It has more of those ever-present guitar fills that I like so much. This is one of my favorite tracks here. I have to say that some of the guitar work on this (and the general sound of the number) makes me think of Dire Straits to some degree.
Not My Monkey
Here we are back into country rock territory. This is not bad, but it's also not a standout. Something just feels a little "off" about it. I do like the guitar work on this quite a bit. This earns a minor parental advisory. It also gets some bonus points for a "Bewitched" reference in the lyrics.
I Like Birds
This country number is fun. The lyrics seem a bit silly, but somehow it works.
Let It Burn
Country and rock music merge on this number. It's a classy tune. The chorus hook is so cool. This is one of the highlights of the disc.
I Don't Like You Anymore
The horns are an interesting touch here. This has plenty of country along with a fun rock motif. This is a little silly, but in a great way. I'd consider this to be another highlight of the set.
Back On the Blues
A slow moving number, this does have a blues angle to it. It's a solid piece of music that's among the most effective here.
1 Dead Smith Reprise
This starts with the sound of a scratchy record. Old-time piano brings this in. It's joined at the end by some vocals. Overall, this short number feels like an old-time record. It's kind of a silly way to end things, but it's also cool.
 
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