July 14, 1998
Country, Contemporary Country, Alt-Country, Neo-Traditionalist Country, Americana, Country-Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock

Album Review

BR5-49's second full album, Big Backyard Beat Show, was something of a "sophomore dip" rather than a full-on "sophomore slump"; given how strong the group's self-titled debut was, expecting lightning to strike with the same impact twice in a row was probably foolish, and on their second trip to the recording studio BR5-49 sound just a bit less lively. More importantly, Big Backyard Beat Show's set list isn't quite as impressive, though there are certainly some top-notch originals, in particular "Storybook Endings (If You Stop Believin')," a poignant story of a busted marriage; "18 Wheels and a Crowbar," a hard-edged tale of a trucker on the edge, and a witty celebration of various forms of misbehavior, "Out of Habit." If anything, where this set stumbles a bit is on the cover tunes, as the band's attempt to put a country swing to "Seven Nights to Rock" and "Wild One" sound a bit half-hearted, though they sound a lot more comfortable on Buck Owens' "There Goes My Love" and Billy Joe Shaver's "Georgia on a Fast Train." And while BR5-49 still sound admirably tight and enthusiastic here (with multi-instrumentalist Don Herron especially impressive), the production by Jozef Nuyens and Mike Janas adds another coat of slickness to the band's approach, and it doesn't serve them well. Still, anyone who heard and enjoyed BR5-49's debut album is likely to dig Big Backyard Beat Show's joyous retro-country rhythms, even if it doesn't hit quite the same heights; it's far superior to their next studio album, the misbegotten This Is BR549.
Mark Deming, Rovi

Track Listing

  1. There Goes My Love
  2. Wild One
  3. Hurtin' Song
  4. Out of Habit
  5. Storybook Endings (If You Stop Believin')
  6. 18 Wheels and a Crowbar
  7. Pain, Pain Go Away
  8. You Are Never Nice to Me
  9. Goodbye Maria
  10. Seven Nights to Rock
  11. My Name Is Mudd
  12. You Flew the Coop
  13. Change the Way I Look
  14. Georgia on a Fast Train
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