Once upon a time, it was a trendy thing for rockers to mix a little country music with their rock 'n' roll. The '60s and '70s gave us Poco, the Flying Burrito Brothers, the Eagles, Neil Young, the Outlaws, even Crosby, Stills and Nash singing "Teach Your Children" to a steel pedal guitar.
You don't hear much country music in rock 'n' roll these days, but on the other side of the spectrum you've got country bands like Southern Pacific and Exile and Sawyer Brown mixing in a little rock 'n' roll with their country music.As much as one genre has dabbled in the other, a true marriage has never been consummated.
Now along comes Tin Star, a rockin' little country band that has totally revitalized the genre of country-rock. Or rock-country. Or whatever you want to call it.
With Tin Star, you get such a healthy dose of both that it's hard to tell which side of the fence they are on. The band has been labeled a combination of Merle Haggard and the Georgia Satellites, or John Cougar Mellencamp and Hank Williams. Another critic said they are "the band everyone expected Lone Justice to be."
Country or rock, Tin Star is one of those obscure bands that is so good you wonder how long it's going to be until folks finally wake up to them.
Their debut album was critically acclaimed, but largely ignored. Now, a re-deputized Tin Star has released a self-titled second album on the Rhino label that crosses back and forth along the country-rock frontier like nothing before.
Ironically, Tin Star is billed primarily as a country band, despite the fact the band's worst songs on "Tin Star" are clearly the tears-in-your-beer country whiners.
The best? The honky-tonk rockers, of course. And it's the rockers that have garnered the band the most attention from fans and critics alike.
Tin Star is the brainchild of singer-songwriter Kerry Hansen and drummer Geoff Lewis, two frustrated rock 'n' rollers who shared country tunes while drowning their sorrows.
When the pair decided to do something about it in 1984, they called their fusion of rock and country Tin Star. The band in 1986 recorded their debut album "Somebody's Dreams" on the now-defunct Wrestler label.
But it wasn't until 1987, after adding Bob Gothar on guitar, Jeff Todd and female vocalist Laura Lee Kessinger, that Tin Star took its current form. The resulting "Tin Star" release with the current lineup may just be the ticket to send Tin Star over the top.
Not only is the country-rock fusion generating a lot of heat, but Kessinger adds an emotional spark to the band that sets it apart from all others. The vocal chemistry as she trades lines with Hansen is nothing short of delightful (often reminiscent of a Lindsey Buckingham-Stevie Nicks-Christine McVie combo).
The best cuts feature duets between Kessinger and Hansen, though Kessinger proves she can handle the vocal chores all be herself if need be. The best cuts on "Tin Star" would have to include "Memory," "Brighter Than the Moon" and "Another You."