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ALBUM REVIEW : Such Bad Material Ought to Be Outlawed


* 1/2 Tim McGraw "Not a Moment Too Soon"

Curb *

Maybe it's only a fine line separating benign insensitivity and outright stupidity, but McGraw oversteps that line by a country mile on this album, his second. And because he does it more than once, he relinquishes any right to any benefit of any doubt for something as embarrassing as his current hit, "Indian Outlaw."

A Randy Newman might be able to salvage something illuminating from the number's premise of a guy who boasts "I'm an Indian outlaw / half Cherokee and Choctaw / My baby's she's a Chippewa." But if the song's writers (Tommy Barnes and Gene Simmons) were aiming for satire by invoking every bad media stereotype of Native Americans imaginable, nobody let McGraw in on the joke.

And just in case you think the song is as lunkheaded as they come, keep listening. "Indian Outlaw" is followed by a poor Jimmy Buffett knockoff called "Refried Dreams" in which a heartbroken cowpoke finds himself "messed up in Mexico and livin' on refried dreams."

Other songs may be less offensive ethnically, but they are every bit as bereft of believable characters and situations. In fact, nearly every one depends exclusively on cliches pertaining to whatever it is McGraw is singing about.

The Louisiana-born musician--the son of ex-Philadelphia Phillies pitching great Tug McGraw--has a moderately effective voice that strikes a middle ground between Garth Brooks' and John Anderson's. But he has given himself precious little worth singing about. It's this sophomoric effort that ends "not a moment too soon."

Ratings range from * (pathetic) to **** (miraculous). Three stars denote a solid recommendation.

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