Album review: Dan Baird, Buffalo Nickel (1996)

 

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, FEB. 8, 1996

By Steve Newton

The name Dan Baird might not be familiar to the average music fan, but to hardcore devotees of southern boogie, Baird is a hero. Former lead singer, rhythm guitarist, and main songwriter for underrated ’80s swamp-rockers the Georgia Satellites, the gap-toothed, goofy-grinning tunesmith is best known for the riff-driven hit “Keep Your Hands to Yourself”, but that tongue-in-cheek ditty seriously pales in comparison to the rest of Baird’s recorded output.

All three Georgia Satellites releases—as well as Baird’s solo debut, Love Songs for the Hearing Impaired—are chock full of ardent, intense tunes shot through with a rootsy vibe that brings to mind Neil Young and the Stones at their raggedy and expressive best.

Baird continues the sterling tradition on his new Buffalo Nickel CD, produced by knob-twiddler-to-the-stars and one-time Georgia Satellites bassist Brendan O’Brien (Young, Pearl Jam, Black Crowes). The multitalented O’Brien adds background vocals, guitar, keyboards, and other instruments to the gutsy mix, which is highlighted by a big, blustery opener with a hook that won’t quit (“Younger Face”), a flat-out rocker that should inspire as many speeding tickets as “Hot Rod Lincoln” (“L’il Bit”), and an engaging cover of NRBQ’s winsome “I Want You Bad”.

A too-gritty version of Joe South’s “Hush” doesn’t come off quite so well, but it’s not enough to tarnish the overall appeal of this 11-track testament to the glory of heartfelt, down-home, no-frills guitar-rock.

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