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POP MUSIC REVIEW : John Anderson Gets Crazy Horse Swangin'

March 25, 1993|NOEL DAVIS | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

SANTA ANA — Ralph Emery once asked John Anderson why on one of his hit records, the background singers clearly articulated the word "swingin' " while he drawled "swangin'."

"Someone has to sing it properly," Anderson replied, "because I sure cain't."

Anderson's inventive, note-curling, language-pulverizing style has placed him on a par with George Jones when it comes to making, by vocal acrobatics alone, virtually any song a delight to listen to. Small wonder, then, that the crowd at the Crazy Horse on Monday night became so upset when a microphone briefly cut out on Anderson in the middle of "1959," the fourth number in his early set. If a microphone had failed on Billy Ray Cyrus, would anyone have noticed?

During the 75-minute, 18-song show, Anderson chatted little (and moved less), but as he and his crack six-piece band alternated between pure honky-tonk ballads (such as "She Just Started Liking Cheatin' Songs") and his patented swamp beat rockers (such as "Swingin' " and "Let Somebody Else Drive"), their music told a series of stories, made all the more poignant by Anderson's expressive drawl.

He worked in many of his early hits such as "Black Sheep" and "I Just Came Home to Count the Memories," and half the songs from last year's "Seminole Wind," his biggest selling album, including the title cut, "Let Go of the Stone" and "Straight Tequila Night."

There also were some unexpected choices: "An Occasional Eagle," a lovely ballad with an environmental theme; an instrumental called "Small Farm Kentucky" on which Anderson played banjo, and three new songs from his upcoming album, "Solid Ground." Each selection revealed his fine ear for material.

Fiddle player Joe Spivey contributed to "Seminole Wind" by re-creating the evocative introduction and ending that he'd contributed to the recording.

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