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Junior Brown, veteran of the rich Austin music scene and virtuoso/inventor of the versatile and fiery “guit-steel,” makes his debut on the Telarc label with Down Home Chrome, a mix of rock and roll and bluesy ballads—plus a few surprises for fans of traditional country. By the end of this entertaining 12-pack produced by Junior himself, the message is clear: this ain’t your father’s country record.
Loaded with tales of heartache, hotrods and honky-tonk (and all the baggage that comes with them), Down Home Chrome showcases Brown’s combination of clever Southwestern songcraft and staggering musicianship—the latter courtesy of “Big Red,” his double-necked, 12-string “guit-steel” (a combination of electric and steel guitar). Listen closely and hear the echoes the voices of various past masters—Buck Owens, Chet Atkins, Dick Dale and countless others who’ve pushed the country/western/rockabilly envelope to its high-octane limit.
Born in Cottonwood, Arizona, in 1952, Brown first learned to play the piano from his father and became a professional musician at the end of the ’60s. A dream prompted him to create an instrument fusing a six-string guitar with its steel counterpart, which led to the development of the “guit-steel” in the mid-‘80s.
Down Home Chrome, his debut on Telarc, maintains the same eclectic and highly entertaining songwriting and stylistic approach that he has taken throughout his career. “I don’t have any boundaries,” he says. “The only boundaries are defined by what I like to do. The bulk of the album is what I guess you would call traditional country. But there are so many little things that I throw in here and there that you can’t really call the album a country album.”
Call it what you will, there’s no mistaking the shimmering finish on Down Home Chrome. Polish the grillwork and turn up the volume. There ain’t a smoother ride this side of the border.
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