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Live From Sunbanks Festival Electric City, Washington, 2018

Commander Cody and his Western Airmen

Liberation Hall 2019

Review by David Bowling

 

Commander Cody is alive, well and live.

George Frayne IV formed and became Commander Cody during 1967. Both with his Lost Planet Airmen and as a solo artist, he has been playing and recording music for the last half-century. His latest release is Live From The Sunbanks Festival Electric City, Washington 2018.

The original incarnation of his Lost Planet Airmen were a band that crossed styles and musical boundaries. They traveled from country to rock to blues to western swing to rockabilly. It all coalesced into one of the ultimate party bands which produced such hits and well-known tunes as “Hot Rod Lincoln,” “Smoke Smoke Smoke (That Cigarette),” “Beat Me Daddy, Eight To The Bar.”

His latest backing band, now called his Western Airmen, is a basic, stripped down affair. Bassist/vocalist Tim Eshliman, electric and pedal steel guitarist Sean Allen, and long-time drummer Steve Barbuto form the smallest backing band of his career.

Their new album was recorded live and as such presents the band with all its positives and flaws. As a four-man band, they narrow their approach to rock and some up-tempo blues.

Commander Cody draws on his past for an 11 song set includes fun songs and more serious material. They ramp up the voltage with “Oh Momma Momma,” “Truck Drivin’ Man,” “Boogie Woogie Country Band,” and “They Kicked Me Out Of The Band.”

Having only four musicians, they try hard to blend together and create layers to their sound. “One Of Those Nights,” “House Of Blue Lights,” and “What’s The Matter Now” are good vehicles for the individual members to stretch a bit and improvise.

Live From The Sunbanks Festival Electric City, Washington 2018 is an album that proves Commander Cody is not only musically relevant but also still having some fun along the way.

Rating: ***