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Mark McGuinn (VFR, 2001)

Mark McGuinn

Reviewed by Joel Bernstein

Mark McGwire has had a lot of long home runs, but he's never had as big a left field hit as Mark McGuinn got with "Mrs. Steven Rudy." Despite stepping to the plate with at least three strikes against it, this banjo-driven (but markedly untraditional country) song came around to score for the obscure singer wearing a beret and recording for a tiny label.

In many ways "Rudy" - and even more so most of the other songs - is a variation on '70's singer/songwriter music. Pop/folk artists like Jim Croce and James Taylor (whom McGuinn frequently resembles vocally) mixed country elements into their records. ('70's pop music in general - pre-disco - was at least as country in sound as most of today's mainstream country.) There are piano driven tunes here as well as several more with a prominent banjo sound, and there's a little steel-guitar and fiddle. There are some love ballads which may be more commercial but the most interesting songs are the last two, "Busy Signal" and "Done It Right." The latter is a tribute to people who stick to their own vision rather than doing what others consider correct, and that's a fitting way for this surprise success story to wrap itself up.

CDs by Mark McGuinn

One Man's Crazy, 2006

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