24 Hours a Day, Atlantic CD 83015, 1997
Maybe more rock than country
The Bottle Rockets make their major label debut with 24 Hours a
Day, following two well-received indie releases. The Rockets produce a
mainstream southern- and country-tinged brand of guitar pop that somehow sounds
remarkably fresh. The weird divisions that separate country from rock probably
place them in the latter camp, with guitars crunching a bit harder, the twangy
vocals drifting slightly toward the ironic, and considerable fun and pep
brought to the whole affair. The punchy, funny songs recall the Georgia
Satellites, or perhaps the goofier side of Neil Young.
Theres quite a mixture of styles on the album. There was a time when a
song like "When I Was Dumb" would be in medium rotation on any Top 40
AM radio station. Its a short unpretentious bit of pure pop, complete
with chiming guitars and lyrics of teenage regret. A few songs, like
"Things You Didnt Know" and "Slo Toms,"
overindulge the guitar hero thing, but in most cases all elements are kept in a
Theres a lyrical balance as well. "Indianapolis" is a cute
mid-tempo rocker about being "stuck in Indianapolis with a fuel pump
thats deceased"and fearing for your life because of the local
citizens. There are also evocative ballads, and crunchers that could have come
right out of the Lynyrd Skynyrd songbook. Two peculiar touches appear towards
the end of the album. "Waitin on a Train" rather pointlessly
reprises the famous "we were married in a fever" opening phrase of
Johnny Cash and June Carters hit "Jackson," then does nothing
with it. The closer "Turn for the Worse" does a bit more with Buddy
Hollys "Everyday" chorus, extending the "every minute
were a gettin closer, going faster than a roller coaster"
metaphor into a loping, drunken ride.
Despite, or maybe because of, these idiosyncrasies, the Bottle Rockets have
earned their spot on my CD tray. Ive played 24 Hours a Day
many times over the past few weeks, which is saying something in this era
of play it and forget it music. Bill Kuhn
The Bottle Rockets: Brian Henneman, vocals, acoustic guitar, guitar; Tom Parr,
vocals, guitar; Tom V. Ray, bass; Mark Ortmann, drums, handclaps, sleigh bells,
Additional personnel: Eric "Roscoe" Ambel, vocals, guitar, piano,
organ, melotron, tambourine, sleigh bells, percussion, claps; Andy York,
vocals, organ; Joe Flood, 5-string acoustic guitar, gut-banjo, mandolin,
fiddle, background vocals; Jack, Diane, guitar; Jay Sherman-Godfrey, cello;
Jeremy Tepper, harmonica; Jim Duffy, organ.
Recorded at Echo Park Studio, Bloomington, Indiana; Coyote Recording Studio,
Brooklyn, New York.