Live/Agora Ballroom - Cleveland, Ohio - May 13, 1990

Kentucky Headhunters

Mercury, 2009

REVIEW BY: David Bowling


Who knew that the Kentucky Headhunters’ May 13th, 1990 performance at Cleveland’s Agora Ballroom would emerge as one of the best live albums of the year nearly two decades later?

Their roots extend back to 1968 with the rock band Itchy Brother. By 1986, they had evolved into The Kentucky Headhunters. Over the years, they have released seven studio albums and twenty plus singles, received three Country Music Association Awards, and a 1990 Grammy for Best Country Vocal Performance By A Duo Or Group.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The Kentucky Headhunters have always been characterized as a country band, but The Kentucky Headhunters Live/Agora Ballroom – Cleveland, Ohio – May 13, 1990 takes them very close to the southern rock style of Lynyrd Skynyrd and The Allman Brothers, and on a few of the songs, they cross the line completely – and let me say, when they rock, they really rock.

The concert begins with Hank Williams’s “Honky Tonk Blues,” which sets the tone for what is to follow. The lyrics and vocals may be country, but the instrumental sound is pure southern boogie rock. Don Gibson’s “Oh Lonesome Me” follows this same style, and the fusion of the two styles is some of the best I have heard.

By the time they get to Doug Sahm’s “She’s About A Mover,” they are in full rock mode. Larry Williams’s “Dizzy Miss Lizzy” follows with a hard rocking version. The old blues classic, “Crossroads,” is similar to Cream’s rendition. It proves that lead guitarist Greg Martin and drummer Fred Young are two of the best musicians you have probably never heard of.

The Kentucky Headhunters have always been a somewhat eclectic band. I remember watching them perform “The Ballad Of Davy Crockett” on a major television awards show. Their choice of “Spirit In The Sky” for a show closer was unusual and inspired.

If you are partial to good southern-style rock ‘n’ roll, then this is an album for you. The Kentucky Headhunters are still on the road performing, and if this old concert is any indication, they are well worth seeing.

Rating: A-

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