Chris Darrow & Robb Strandlund
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Chris Darrow & Robb Strandlund
Wages of Sin

catalog-no. tx 2074
rock - 2006

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  1. Reputation (Kim Fowley/Steve O’Reily) 2:37
  2. Wages of Sin (Leslie York) 2:51
  3. Lookin' for Someone to Love (Buddy Holly/Norman Petty) 1:36
  4. Chains (Gerald Goffin/Carole King) 2:34
  5. Tell Him No (Travis Pritchett) 2:24
  6. Lay A Little Love On Me (Robb Strandlund) 1:48
  7. I Ain't Never (Michael Webb Pierce/Mel Tillis) 1:35
  8. You Better Be Prepared (Bill Caswell/Robb Strandlund) 2:32
  9. Am I to Be the One (Otis Blackwell/Bobby Stevenson) 1:46
  10. Tell Me How (Jerry Allison/Buddy Holly/Norman Petty) 3:06
  11. Thou Shalt Not Steal (John D. Loudermilk) 3:45

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Chris Darrow & Robb Strandlund

I met Robb Strandlund back in the mid-seventies at an out of the way honky tonk, on old Route 66, called Bodine’s. He and his band, the Silverados, were playing a gig there. I went to see them with an old friend and compatriot, Randy Sterling, who thought I might be a good producer for this group. Robb and I got on instantly and we have been working together, off and on, for thirty years now. One of our major bonds has always been the concept of duet singing. When we first started harmonizing, we realized that we anticipated each other’s moves and our blend was familial, like brothers. In all the years of working together, we never exploited this aspect of our relationship, until now. While compiling the material for this CD we tried to pay homage to some not so familiar tunes, and also some different interpretations of songs you might be familiar with. All songs were picked to show various aspects of what our duet style is all about.

We chose songs from the classic period of 1954 – 1964, when Rock and Roll was in its infancy and country music was still influenced by the original sound of rural America. The tone of the CD hails back to the time when you could still get 78 rpm records, as well as the “new” 45 rpm and 33 rpm long playing, vinyl records. They came in both Mono and Stereo, in case you didn’t have one of those “new fangled” stereo units. This was a time of transition and also a time of inspiration for both Robb and I. Wages of Sin was mixed in Stereo with a Monophonic attitude, to give it an authentic feel. The songs of the day were usually 3 minutes or less long and albums were 10 songs in length, with 5 per side. This was due to the fact that there was only a certain amount of music that could fit on a 78, 45 or an LP in those days, so our CD is a little short by modern standards. However, like the records we were raised on, there was always a “less is more“ ethic driving the music. Musicians had to get in as much as they could in the period allotted to them on a tape or acetate. So Buddy Holly, Hank Williams and Elvis all had the same restrictions and it certainly never hurt the richness or quality of their music. We feel the same about Wages of Sin. The songs are the heart and soul of this collection and here is a rundown of our choices.

Reputation is a Kim Fowley song from 1963, recorded originally by the Rangers, a precursor to the Sunrays. Great shotgun lyrics with some stunning fiddle by Max Buda.

The title song, Wages of Sin, comes from a group on King Records called the York Bros from a 1958 album given to me by my pal, Pat Brayer. It’s a morality tale of high order, warning of the consequences of the high life. Bob Siggins’ pedal steel is the perfect compliment to the plaintive lyrics.

Buddy Holly is the source for two of our songs, the first being Lookin’ for Someone to Love. “Drunk Man … Street Car … Foots Slips … There You Are”, are some of the finest Zen, rock and roll lyrics of all time. Tell Me How was originally done fast, but I think that the song has a ballad heart. Once again, Siggins’ steel guitar is superb.

Chains, a Goffin/King song, made famous by the Cookies and covered by the Beatles, is a great, unlikely shuffle that suits our tight, two part harmony to a tee. Max’s brilliant harp playing and Craig Van Sant’s perfect meter lifts this song off the ground.
Tell Him No by Travis and Bob has been a favorite of mine since 1959, when it first appeared. Great song!

Lay a Little Love on Me is a song that should have been written by Buddy Holly, but is actually one of two original pieces of material written by Robb Strandlund for this CD. Craig’s solid drumming is right on the money and our interactive harmony switching is acrobatic. Be Prepared, is the other original tune, written in honor of the Louvin Bros. I borrow directly from another great brother act, Jim and Jesse McReynolds, with my Jesse McReynolds inspired mandolin part.

Webb Pierce had the original hit of I Aint Never, co-written by Mel Tillis, another great country singer. It is perfect harmony fodder for Robb and I, and is a rare, non-blues shuffle.

Am I to be the One, is a song done by a one time only duo of Charley Rich and Jerry Lee Lewis. Like Jerry Lee and Charley, Robb and I are solo singers as well as “harmoniacs”. Many duos can’t sing solo but must rely on the other for fulfillment. Not so here.
Saving the best for last, our personal favorite is a chestnut from Dick and Dee Dee, Thou Shalt Not Steal. Dick died right after we recorded this record. He was 64 years old. We dedicate CD this to his memory.

CHRIS DARROW, Claremont, CA, 2006

See also: Chris Darrow...

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