Big Backyard Beat Show is aptly named, since it takes the down-home retro twang of BR5-49's earlier releases and punches it up with big, old-school rock & roll beats. That doesn't make this record any less country, though;... more » these boys know that rock & roll was country all along. To wit, rollicking covers of "Wild One" and "Seven Nights to Rock" are hillbilly boogie and rockabilly, respectively, only with the guitars--both electric and pedal-steel--cranked and twisted to contemporary levels. The only real weakness here is that the originals of frontmen Chuck Mead and Gary Bennett aren't as strong this time around as last, but even then the shuffle "My Name Is Mudd" and the driving "You Are Never Nice to Me" come awfully darn close. --David Cantwell« less
Big Backyard Beat Show is aptly named, since it takes the down-home retro twang of BR5-49's earlier releases and punches it up with big, old-school rock & roll beats. That doesn't make this record any less country, though; these boys know that rock & roll was country all along. To wit, rollicking covers of "Wild One" and "Seven Nights to Rock" are hillbilly boogie and rockabilly, respectively, only with the guitars--both electric and pedal-steel--cranked and twisted to contemporary levels. The only real weakness here is that the originals of frontmen Chuck Mead and Gary Bennett aren't as strong this time around as last, but even then the shuffle "My Name Is Mudd" and the driving "You Are Never Nice to Me" come awfully darn close. --David Cantwell
"...you've missed a lot. This is the best band in the world today. Anyone who has seen them live knows that Chuck Mead is probably one of the ten best guitarists in the world right now. He plays so effortlessly, though, you might miss it. Donnie Herron is an inspired musician, someone who has been blessed with amazing talent. Shaw and Jay are the best rhythm section since Watts and Wyman. Gary is just the ghost of every true honky tonk singer that has ever lived and died pouring his heart out. If you don't buy all three CD's right now, you'll be missing a great deal from your musical collection. If they come to your town, and you don't go see them, you will have missed a golden opportunity. I pray to God that they never break up."
Greg Brady | 08/02/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If you like the Stray Cats rockabilly music, you'll love this group. Just saw them live and was blown away by their talent and musicianship. The lead vocals are very strong!!"
Exemplary influences, wit and character
Penny Kiley (email@example.com | Liverpool, England | 11/01/1998
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The best introduction to BR5-49 is their live show but this comes close. It's a good cross section of what to expect from the band with a contemporary take on classic 50s style that is joyful, witty and sometimes touching. The playing is excellent, from Chuck Mead's rockabilly guitar to Don Herron's authentic country sounds on fiddle, steel and more. The band are blessed with two distinctive singing/songwriting voices in Chuck Mead and Gary Bennett. It's no coincidence that Bennett takes "Hurtin' Song" (one of five covers). He has the crack in the voice that goes with heartbreak territory. His "Pain Pain Go Away" continues the theme while "Storybook Endings (If you stop believin')" , a beautiful teardrenched ballad, is the closest the band get to mainstream country. You can imagine someone else covering this. Elsewhere, it's hard to see the join between covers and originals. Bennett's fun swing number "You flew the coop" could be a sequel to "Ain't nobody here but us chickens". There is plenty of humour, with a link to tradition: the band walk the thin line between melodrama and black comedy that has always been there in country. Mead's accordian-driven "Goodbye, Maria" is tragedy with a laugh; his "My name is Mudd" comes with irony attached. It's not all country. In "Wild One" and "18 Wheels and a crowbar" they rock too. The band have an exemplary set of influences: what's more important they have the character to make them their own and the enthusiasm to infect any listener."
Sophomore isn't a slump..big improvement over debut
Greg Brady | Capital City | 04/27/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"BR5-49 returns for their sophomore effort with more honky-tonk tradition, a sprinkling of rockabilly, and a Western swing number. Unlike Amazon's reviewer, I feel the originals from Gary Bennett and Chuck Mead (with an assist from Shaw Wilson on "18 Wheels...") are STRONGER this time out, making for a better CD than the debut.
HIGHLIGHTS: A cover of Buck Owens' "There Goes my Love" gets things off to a good start. A cover of the Killer follows with "Wild One" and it's nice, though not as manic as Lewis himself. "Out of Habit", written by the band's Chuck Mead, toasts bar hopping. ("I can't be held responsible/it helps me unwind/She said it was another bad habit of mine") Gary Bennett's "Storybook Endings" is a wonderfully bittersweet portrayal of a divorcee determined to keep looking for 'happy ever after'. ("Storybook endings and white picket fences/Castles and tales where the prince finds the princess ain't real/if you stop believin'"). "18 Wheels and a Crowbar" is a trucker's fantasy revenge on cellphone totin' yuppie scum. Love and pain intertwine in Bennett's "You are Never Nice to Me" while accordion lends a Tejano flavor to Mead's "Goodbye, Maria". "Seven Nights to Rock" is solid rockabilly. "You Flew the Coop" is a novelty Western swing number.
LOWS: "Pain, Pain Go Away" isn't awful but it's less compelling than most of the material here. "Georgia on a Fast Train" isn't bad, but Shaver's original is better. "change the Way I look" is somewhat tepid.
BOTTOM LINE: 14 cuts here...11 of them are at least good. This is where I'd start if you're trying to find out why people hype this band."
A boot stomping album
Greg Brady | 11/15/1998
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Another boot stomping album by BR5-49. Its so refreshing in these days of country artists trying to sound like pop stars that a band like BR5-49 brings country back to its roots. This album does just that and delivers a mix of songs, from ones you've heard before to up-tempo, get out and dance songs. If you like most of what you hear on country radio today with all the sugary pop and the word love in every song, you won't like this one. But if you like good, country music the way it was meant to be played, you'll love this one."