Heard It on the X
Just as the call letters for all radio stations in the U.S. begin with either the letter W or K, radio stations based in Mexico begin an X. Hence the album title celebrating south-of-the-border radio which was hugely influential from the '30s through the '60s in cross-pollinating musical styles between the Southwestern U.S. and Mexico.
Once again the project brings together an array of talented singers and musicians to assist throughout the record, spotlighting musicians and music from Texas. Joe Ely, Freddy Fender, Rick Trevino, and Raul Malo return after past Los Super Seven appearances. Others, like John Hiatt, Lyle Lovett, and Rodney Crowell join the fun for the first time.
The powerful voice of Raul Malo kicks off the album, on the album-starter, "The El Burro Song," a terrific mariachi song written by Joey Burns of Calexico (in fact, members of Calexico perform on this song and throughout the album). Malo later does the Doug Sahm number "Song of Everything."
The title cut is a blast of funky riff-driven rock originally recorded by ZZ Top in 1975, this version powered by Austin-based Ruben Ramos. Joe Ely fronts a faithful take on the Bobby Fuller Four's "Let Her Dance," reminding us all what a great song it it with his terrific interpretation.
And Lyle Lovett does a great job with "My Window Faces the South," a song well associated with Western Swing pioneer Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys.
Delbert McClinton also makes two stops along this ride, one with the horn-drenched R&B number "Talk to Me"-which features the West Side Horns, who also played on the original hit by Sunny & The Sunliners. McClinton also does the Willie Dixon blues stomp "I Live the Life I Love."
Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown sings the maudlin Blind Lemon Jefferson standard "See That My Grave Is Kept Clean." The song has an extra dimension of sadness, as Brown has recently been diagnosed with terminal cancer.
But regardless of the emotional pitch produced on each individual track, the cumulative effect is celebratory. These musicians show a deep love for the music that the border radio stations introduced to many of them, and their joy in their music is clear.
Every song on Heard It on The X is both fun and well-crafted, leading one to admire the skills of the players involved and once again makes an excellent summation of a great music style.