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Crazy Joe and the Mad River Outlaws

The King of Nerd-A-Billy – 2007 (Atom)

Reviewed by Ken Burke

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CDs by Crazy Joe and the Mad River Outlaws

Blessed with zingy, self mocking humor, suburban country heartache, and guitar chops galore, the latest by Crazy Joe and the Mad River Outlaws skillfully traverses country, blues, garage rock and Les Paul-via-Deke Dickerson style rockabilly. The result is the Enon, Ohio-based group's most entertaining work to date.

The Mad River Outlaws evoke a deliciously full sound that allows them to find the danceable groove on polished rockabilly remakes of Louis Jordan's "Smack Dab in the Middle" and "I Like My Chicken Fryin' Size." Capable of slowing it down, the group brings the right sense of restraint to '50s style rock-a-ballads "You Never Carted for Me" and "I Knew You'd Be the One."

Yet, Crazy Joe Tritschler - the bespectacled engineer who looks like he works alongside comic strip character Dilbert - is the real show here. Whether he emotes country heartache with "Cryin' My Eyes Out Over You," reinvents Sam Cooke's "Nothing Can Change This Love" or pleads the bluesy "Kansas City Baby," his mid-range voice resonates with sincerity. Best of all, the technically brilliant guitar duels with guest Deke Dickerson on "Flight of the Beverly Bumblebillies," "Remington Rock" and "Pants of Fire 2007," are just flat out fun to hear. (P.O. Box 514, Dayton, OH 45409-0514, 937-296-0075)