Pass me the noose

You may have preconceived ideas about country music. When you think of it do you see Dolly Parton or Kenny Rogers? Do you see middle aged people line dancing at the local workingmens club? How about people old enough to know better wearing leather waistcoats and cowboy hats, booted and with belt buckles big enough to deflect a charging bull.

This would be unfair, country music is one of the most popular forms of music in the world and has diversification enough to rival metal, there are so many sub genre's as to confuse the average listener covering everything from Country rock to nonstop love songs, so don't for one minute think that you know country music unless you've immersed yourself in it for years, which I haven't.

I'm no country music fan, but that doesn't stop me from appreciating a good song when I hear it, Johnny Cash was a genius of a man who knew how to write and perform a song, Dolly Parton didn't get where she is today by just having a chest the size of the average ranch (probably didn't hurt though) there is a huge list of artists that could be reeled off to illustrate the fact that country covers a lot of ground and you'd find something you like regardless of your musical leanings. Here's a few to hammer the point home, Willie Nelson, Hank Williams and Tammy Wynette.

So to this album by Casino Steel, how does it stand as testament to all that has gone before? Well it's giving it a go by having several cover versions mixed in with Casino's own stuff and a real mixed bag it is.

Kicking off with a cover of an old Hank Williams song 'There's a tear in my beer', this has been updated and ruined, the original was a slow, lonesome plodder of a song that admittedly wasn't that great but this updated version sounds for all the world like it was written specifically for the aforementioned line dancing crowd. Speeded up and with all the feeling beaten out of it there could be no worse way to get your album going, I really thought I was in for a mind altering fourteen songs of yeahaw.

This faltering start is followed by a Casino original called 'I was barely getting by' a song which for all the world sounds like Mark Knopfler and lifts the album if not the mood considerably, it's miserable but that's the idea, you can't have too much misery in country. Songs cover Loss, divorce, hard drinking, lack of money and longing, preferably all together if you can get the lyrics around it.

So follows another Hank Williams song which casino has slowed down of all things, I won't tell you what it's about I'll just give you the title 'I'm so lonesome I could cry' Hank sang this with his usual bucketloads of feeling whereas Casino kind of overdoes the sincerity turning it into an endurance task just to get to the end without killing yourself. Luckily a lady pops up at the end with the voice of an angel to drag you back from the brink.

It goes on from song to song, Casino references himself in the lyrics a couple of times to give it that personal touch but I tell you if he has suffered as much loss and drank as much drink as this album suggests then I'm surprised he's sane and alive, course I don't know about the first part and there are parts of this album that make me doubt the second.

When Casino is performing his own material it sounds much better than when he is covering other peoples songs, this could be because he can write the songs for his limited singing voice but also because he is a good song writer 'Ballad of the sad café' being a case in point, this is probably the best song on the album.

This album has so many things wrong with it and unfortunately only a few right, Casino can't really sing, this is shown in stark relief whenever he has someone else singing with him, there's a lady on here that just blows him away whenever she sings, the album drags along at a depressing pace while misery and sorrow are churned out making the album a difficult listen even if you want to be brought down. If you're already feeling lonely and unhappy this should carry a health warning as it'll push you right over the edge.

In a lot of places this sounds exactly like that stupid image of country music you may have started out with, slide guitar, brushes on the snare, steel guitar and a lonesome whining cowboy pouring his heart out in a way that should make you pity him but ends up making you want to shoot him to put you both out of your misery.

Oh and 'baby, that's cold' is just stupid, talk about leveraging in the most preposterously unhappy event, apparently she sat him down looked him in the eye and said "I never really cared for you at all" well yeah that's likely isn't it? I literally laughed out loud at that line. I'm sorry but this album won't alter anyone's perception of country despite Casino posing like Mr Cash on the back cover, just go out and get some genuine Johnny Cash instead.