Texas ’55 – Extreme Hillbilly (Planet Cowboy Records PCR 102)
review written by Tom Wilmeth
9 October 1999
Country group Texas 55 must be commended for their complete truth in advertising, from band name to CD title. The Milwaukee outfit’s second release, Extreme Hillbilly, finds the band growing stronger in what seems to be a fervent mission of bringing two-step shuffles, western swing, and honky-tonk music to the north country.
Group leader Rob Laplander explains, “The band’s name reflects our goal of playing a mix of country styles that you could have heard on a Texas radio station in 1955.” While this focus might suggest a slavish approach to a distant time and place, Texas 55 does not step into the trap of mere recreation. The band’s freshness is due, in part, to Laplander’s numerous original numbers. Songs such as “Alcohol, Tobacco and Caffeine” and “Silent City Blues” show great respect for the pure country form, but are also fresh tunes in their own right.
The influences demonstrated throughout Extreme Hillbilly are strong, but pure -- not derived from second or third generation material. Echoes of a young Ray Price, Johnny Cash at Sun, and rockabilly Elvis echo through the entire disc, tacitly offering approval and encouragement. Laplander and his versatile colleagues make Texas 55 the band to hear for some absolute country music, both on their new CD and live at a local club.
Planet Cowboy Records; 3141 S. 39th St.; Milwaukee, WI 53215