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Pat McLaughlin, "Get Out and Stay Out", Dos Records

March 16, 1995|JIM WASHBURN

Record Company Executives Are Dopes, Chapter 2309: This deeply delightful album would have been with us six years ago, had Capitol Records released it when recorded in 1989. It's finally seeing the light of day via tiny, Texas-based Dos Records, the home of singer-songwriter McLaughlin's "Unglued," which was far and away this writer's favorite album of last year. If "Unglued" was like discovering a gold '57 Cadillac in your driveway, "Get Out and Stay Out" is more like finding a missing favorite old shirt in the spare-tire compartment, with a $20 bill in the pocket to boot. More pleasure than treasure, the album is still a fine example of McLaughlin's beguil ingly compelling song-crafting, with songs that always make emotional sense while defying literal interpretation.

While most of his songs have a dollop of heartache, there's no shortage of Dixie beer and crawfish sloshing and crawling around in them too. "I'm Ready" and "The Craze" are about as wildly celebratory as you could get without living in Little Richard's hair. Meanwhile, "Night Thing" is a glorious musical fender-bender, featuring McLaughlin's choppy Telecaster work and fine backing from a tight studio band including keyboardist Ian McLagan and guitarist Billy Bremner.

That song and two others here were reprised by McLaughlin on "Unglued" and emphasize the difference between the two albums. Along with McLaughlin having since grown as a writer and singer, "Get Out. . ." was produced by Mitchell Froom, who, despite his empathetic work with Los Lobos and Crowded House, manages little of the same here. Rather than illuminate McLaughlin's songs, Froom's production decorates them in unseemly togs.

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