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Tim and the orchestra

SOUL SEASON • Tim Krekel Orchestra

Rock and Roll is so simple: three chords and a beat--what could be easier? But like the guitar that drives it, it is easy to play badly and hard to play well. One listen to Tim Krekel's opus, Soul Season, is enough to demonstrate to even the deafest ears what it is to play rock and roll properly. It is all here: the perfectly distorted guitars--not too dirty or too clean; the elusive beat, poised between straight and swing; and the simple but never stupid lyrics. This is a prime example of the music that has fueled joyous, drunken Friday nights in bars from Bangor to the Bay Area; the music that makes the pain of punching a clock disappear for a few hours; and the music that allows people to put aside failed relationships and learn to love (or at least lust) anew. Rock and Roll is not Metal, Blues, Country, Alt-anything, Hip-Hop, or Jazz. It is not even Rock--if it doesn't roll, it doesn't swing, and it don't mean a thing.

Tim Krekel plays pure roadhouse Rock and Roll. Others who plough this ground are Pat McLaughlin, Delbert McClinton, and Stephen Bruton, all of whom Krekel calls to mind on various occasions. "I Won't Leave You Alone," "I Can't Help Myself," "Love One Another," "Hello Baby," "I Just Can't Cry Anymore," and "I Love Everybody" offer a graduate lesson in the possible permutations of the rock and roll shuffle--fans of Exile On Main Street prepare to be ecstatic.

Few singer/songwriters could write a song with the hook "They buried Wilson Pickett in my backyard" ("Wilson Pickett") and make it work. Fewer still could conjure up exactly the right Muscle Shoals guitar tone to go with it. (Billy Swan and Jimmy Buffet are but a few that have employed his soulful playing.) The consistency of the songwriting on Soul Season is a marvel--not a weak link in the bunch. I suppose this shouldn't be a surprise, coming from a man who has been covered by Rick Nelson, Lonnie Mack, Jerry Reed, Canned Heat, Kathy Mattea, Patty Loveless, Jason & the Scorchers, Vern Gosdin, BJ Thomas, Crystal Gayle, Aaron Tippin, Deana Carter and Kim Ritchey, among others.

Still Krekel remains the classic "local hero"--an archetype that exists all over the world. Like the Cate Brothers in Arkansas, or CC Adcock in Louisiana, Krekel rarely plies his trade far from his Louisville, Kentucky home. It would be easy to bemoan the fact that talents like these are unrecognized by the world at large. But if it means that for a couple of bucks and/or the price of a few beers, locals can get world-class entertainment on a regular basis, is that so bad? You may not get to see Krekel in a concert hall near you, but you owe it to yourself to get the record and remind yourself what great Rock and Roll is all about.
• Michael Ross

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