Big In Iowa

Independent release, 1999

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


The spirit of country-rockers like The Eagles isn't dead. If groups like The Bottle Rockets haven't given your memory a kick, groups like Big In Iowa should pick you up and give you a good shake. Their second disc, Twisted, shows that Bob Burns and crew have learned their lessons well - even though the formula gets a little thin by the end of the disc.

Don't think for a second that Big In Iowa has lifted the tablature from the early Eagles albums and copied them note-for-note; if anything, the group - lead vocalist/rhythm guitarist Burns, lead guitarist/vocalist Rick House, bassist Ken Glidewell, organist/vocalist Mike McGuire and drummer/vocalist Jeff Wilson - inject enough of their own style into the mix that you'll know you're listening to something unique yet familiar. It's a fine balance, but one the band pulls off for the most part.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Twisted warmly embraces its rock roots as well. Tracks like "Is This Love?" and "Southbound Train" hit the gas full throttle and refuse to let the listener come up for air. "Is This Love?" is especially impressive, and is a definite highlight of this album.

The band's Midwest roots shine through on tracks like "Rae Jean" and "Justine (The Acid Queen)", the latter track daring to throw a little humor into the mix as well. It's hard to listen to tracks like these and not think of Little Feat, especially with Burns's vocal delivery sounding not unlike the late Lowell George. But Burns and the band make sure to put their own stamp on the material, which makes these tracks all the more special.

Unfortunately, the songwriting doesn't seem to be able to hold out the promise for the bulk of Twisted. Cuts like "I Know It's Wrong," "My Pillow" and "Nobody's Fool" just aren't of the same ilk as the first half of the disc, and what should have been a blazing finish for Twisted instead kind of meanders to a crawl. That's a shame, because Big In Iowa proved early and often on this disc that they had the power to write good songs and the musical chops to back them up. But if the song isn't strong, solid performances don't even come into the picture.

Big In Iowa recently released their latest disc Bangin' 'n' Knockin'; we'll eventually get to that disc here as well. Until then, Twisted is a nice introduction to this band as well as a reminder of the forefathers of this generation - but it's more of a disc that promises greater things to come.

Rating: B

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