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Charlie Burton and the Texas Twelve Steppers

Rustic Fixer-Upper – 1997 (Lazy SOB)

Reviewed by Joel Bernstein

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CDs by Charlie Burton and the Texas Twelve Steppers

From Austin, by way of America's heartland, comes the funniest country album of the year. And yes, we mean "funny ha-ha." Originally out of Nebraska, Burton has been recording since at least 1982. Musically, this is your standard "roots" mix - country, rockabilly, blues, etc. (aided considerably by the likes of Lucky Oceans and Mary Cutrufello)

Burton's voice is no great shakes; singer-songwriter caliber, emphasis on songwriter. But that songwriter sparkles with wit. Titles like "She's Out Of My Hair (But Not Out Of My Mind)," "Baby Let's Play God," and "I'm The Guy Who Let Miss Universe Slip Thru His Fingers" only hint at the cleverness that runs almost non-stop through Burton's lyrics. "Words Don't Mean Words" is about elderly folks who can't keep up with linguistic evolution "Seeds That You Plant" is about people with bad timing, like the soft drink inventor who dies after the failure of "6-Up."

Most songs are about the tribulations of relationships, or living on too little money. Burton's lyrics aren't just funny, they're insightful as well. Too many of today's albums have nothing to say, but this more than makes up for them. (LazySOB@aol.com or 512-480-0765)