Dave Biller and Jeremy Wakefield - The Hot Guitars of Biller & Wakefield
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The Hot Guitars of Biller & Wakefield (HighTone/HMG, 1999)

Dave Biller and Jeremy Wakefield

Reviewed by Stuart Munro

Dave Biller and Jeremy Wakefield pay obvious homage to titans Speedy West and Jeremy Wakefield on the latest in a string of instrumental releases from Hightone Records. But if Biller (Asylum Street Spankers and ex-of Dale Watson's Lone Stars) and Wakefield (Lucky Stars) show deference to the flaming guitars of West and Bryant in labeling theirs merely "hot," they're being unduly modest, since they display a good deal of pyrotechnics of their own.

Like West and Bryant, Biller and Wakefield's stuff is rooted as much in jazz - ranging from wild and swinging to smoky and moody - as country per se, and like West and Bryant, there's plenty of stretching out, cutting loose and playing around. At the same time, the presence of Wakefield's straight steel lends a consistent hillbilly air to the proceedings. And although this isn't a pure instrumental album since it contains three vocal tracks, two of the three are thoroughly in the spirit of such an album: on "Steel Crazy," Big Sandy asks an old love whether she's "still steel crazy," still driven wild by the sound of the steel guitar, and the closing track, "Guitars on Fire," is simply a recitation, Deke Dickerson-style, of the instrumental talents of Biller and Wakefield.

It's also worth noting - if clean, ferocious picking, well-crafted songs, and goofy titles ("Martian Guts?" "Them There Shoes?") aren't enough - that the album marks the first appearance of Dave Stuckey and Deke Dickerson together (providing vocals on two tracks) since the breakup of The Dave and Deke Combo.




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