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The Tractors

The Big Night – 2002 (Audium)

Reviewed by Brian Wahlert

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CDs by The Tractors

Although the Tractors have fallen out of the limelight since leaving Arista, Steve Ripley and his band are still turning out high-quality boundary-crossing music. It's country, boogie and swing all rolled into one. Above all, it's highly satisfying.

The slow burn of the Elvis classic "Santa Claus Is Back in Town" fits this band perfectly, as does the rocking Rick Vito (Fleetwood Mac) tune "I Was a Bad Boy This Year." Ripley cowrote "Bo Diddley Santa Claus," a little ditty in which Santa gets sick at Christmas and surrenders the sleigh reins to Bo Diddley.And then right when you're least expecting it, Ripley t

hrows in "Little Drummer Boy," backed by a guitar, string quartet and accordion. Ripley is far from the greatest pure singer in country music, but the sincerity in his rough voice makes this version work. If you like your country with a saxophone, tinkling pianos and doowop background vocals, then you'll love this CD.