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Album Review

GREG TROOPER
Upside-Down Town

Dave Marsh says that “Greg Trooper is a songwriter and performer who deserves about 12 times the attention he's received.” I'll call that and up the ante. He is one of the most unpretentious musicians I've ever heard. He may not be able to sing a cat out of a tree, but he will make the cat forget he's in that tree. There is a bit of J.J. Cale and early Clapton in his delivery, which puts you at your ease even on the more upbeat songs. Whisps of The Band creep in here and there and he steps into country and folk without making you realize it because the core is always Trooper. He's obviously a pro. He sounds like the music is second nature, like breathing or smiling.

Of course I was hooked on track one, Nobody In the Whole Wide World. Overlapping a Wurlitzer electric piano and a Hammond B3 organ will do it every time--- a magical combination to my ears. Add the light choogling Clapton feel and the seemingly effortless guitar licks and the hook was set. Upside-Down Town isn't all Clapton-leaning, but it is a great start. They Call Me Hank is pure folk. I've heard songs which tell a similar story--- a down-and-outer crushed by life--- but Trooper delivers it with a special touch (and it doesn't hurt having that pump organ and electric guitar in the background). I'm not saying that Trooper was influenced by The Band, but Could Have Been You melds their feel with a slight country bent and makes it work beautifully.

Trooper is the complete package. Some musicians have the music down, some have the lyrics, some have the phrasing, but few put it all together. Trooper does it all. Well, not alone. He is fortunate to have the production talents of Stewart Lerman and Kevin McKendree (who share production credits with Trooper) and the handful of excellent sidemen picked up for the session. For any artist, it makes the job a lot easier when everyone is on the same page and everyone was certainly in tandem here.

When I stated that Trooper was a pro, I meant it. He has a stream of albums before this one, all worth hearing. I heartily suggest you check them out. Like I said, the guy has a touch.

Frank O. Gutch Jr.

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