Listen Up: Wednesday, November 09, 2005
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A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
Bobby Bare

The Moon Was Blue (Dualtone)

By Tom Geddie

Young audiences probably know Bobby Bare Jr. as the frontman for the indie rock band Young Criminals Starvation League. Older audiences may remember Bobby Bare for “Detroit City,” “How I Got to Memphis,” “500 Miles from Home,” and even “Drop-Kick Me, Jesus (Through the Goal Posts of Life).”

Coaxed out of retirement by his son, the older Bare — once a recording force in Nashville and, as Willie Nelson’s roommate, a peripheral part of the Outlaw scene — shares 11 country classics on The Moon Was Blue. Produced by Bare Jr. and Mark Nevers, the c.d. is billed as senior’s first recordings in more than 20 years (conveniently overlooking a 1998 collection of Shel Silverstein songs called Old Dogs on which Bare collaborated with Waylon Jennings, Jerry Reed, and Mel Tellis).

The best word to describe the tracks on The Moon Was Blue — about isolation, memory, and, sometimes, lack of fulfillment — is simply “good.” Bare’s baritone isn’t as elastic as it once was, but that’s OK — he had voice to spare in his youth, and his weaknesses now kind of add the texture of time to his vocals.

The disc’s biggest problem is in treating all of the tunes with too much respect. While adding chorus and strings to slow numbers was common during Bare’s heyday, it now sounds archaic. And the odd sounds that creep into certain tracks — referred to as “loopy space noise overdubs” in the liner notes — sometimes work and sometimes don’t. When they appear at the beginnings of songs, they, frankly, seem like errors.

The Moon Was Blue is pretty much a labor of love — a son’s for his father and an indulging father’s for his son. There’s nothing great about that, but there’s nothing wrong with it, either.


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