One of the tightest bands in all of country music, and definitely one of the most talented, it’s a shame to see The Derailers making hardly any inroads on the charts despite over a decade of some of the finest Bakersfield country since Buck Owens and his Buckaroos ruled the roost. It only proves what real country fans have known for years: real country is not appreciated on country radio or in Nashville. Sure, they’ll trot out some old legend when he’s near death or when a sympathetic story is called for, but when they’re doing fine physically and there’s no need for a story let one of them release a record and it’s nothing but crickets from the powers that be.
If you were a follower of the band in the late ’90’s when they were having their albums released by Sire Records, there has been a major change within the group. Tony Villanueva, their former singer, is no longer with the band and is now a preacher in the Northwest US somewhere. At first, I mourned the loss of Villanueva, as he seemed to really understand what country music was about and was a great singer and songwriter to boot. With Villanueva gone, it was up to guitarist/songwriter/sometime singer Brian Hofeldt to decide whether the band should keep going. Thank God, he decided to keep the Derailers on the rails! Now on his third album as leader of the band, The Derailers are as strong as ever and if you listened to the Sire albums and this one, there would be few differences other than the sound of the singer’s voice. And while the sameness might be a turnoff to some, great country music is real simple stuff, though don’t confuse ‘simple’ with ‘easy’. With the limited palette of country music (especially when you narrow it down even further to a traditional Bakersfield sound, say) it takes real talent to come up with something fresh, but these guys have managed to do it every album. It could be Hofeldt’s love of Mersey pop, as little Beatles touches pop up on every Derailers record since Hofeldt has taken over. It’s funny, because The Beatles covered Buck Owens’ songs on their first albums so it’s come full circle in a way. Like the album title suggests, this great hard-country CD by the best country band in the business today is guaranteed to satisfy your musical desires.