Days of Horses – Aztec Two Step
CD Review by Ray D'Ariano

2/2006


         



Track listing
1.
Days of Horses
2.
Dad Came Home
3.
Stargazers
4.
Better These Days
5.
Scotty Moore,
Bill Black and Elvis
6.
Tonight I Wish I
Was in Texas
7.
Fools Like Us
8.
Sunday in the
Afternoon with You
9.
  Everybody Knows
10.
  Down Home
11.
  I Don't Believe
in Jesus (but I sure
do like his songs)

Label: Red Engine
Release Date:
September 15, 2004

 

   

Out of all the great acoustic harmony duos from the 60's and 70's (Simon and Garfunkel, Brewer and Shipley, Seals and Crofts), one group continues to perform and record beautiful and relevant music after 35 years . . . Rex Fowler and Neal Shulman, collectively known as Aztec Two Step.

Recently I picked up "Days of Horses" at one of their live gigs. Neal had just performed "Dad Came Home," and it knocked me out. At the merch table I was happy to find it on this CD. With a strong vocal and lovely acoustic guitar, the song is my life story! In fact, if you were a child of the 50's it's yours too. The bit that really hit home was when he sang about sitting at the kitchen table doing homework while listening to rock and roll DJ, Murray The K on 1010 WINS in New York. Who sings about that? Who knew about that? The only other time I ever heard Murray mentioned in a song was on the Ramones' "End of the Century" collection.

My entire youth is contained in "Dad Came Home" . . . going to the movies on Saturday afternoons, Elvis, Martin & Lewis, James Bond . . . then there's The Beatles, and how TV, rock and roll, and the movies taught us everything we'd ever need to know. It's an amazing tune!

Right now you should stop reading this and go to Amazon or the group's own web site (www.aztectwostep.com) and grab a copy. Pay the few extra bucks to get it shipped to you special, super-fast delivery! You want to own this recording.

Although Neal Schulman wrote the song that got me interested in the CD, his partner Rex Fowler has contributed some gems to this set as well. His beautiful "Fools Like Us." is a fantastic tune about yesterdays that we thought would never end. Then there's the over-five-minute masterpiece "Sunday Afternoon With You." It has superb guitars playing over an acoustic Indian sound with a lyric that includes "In a magic garden, if the sky should fall, songs will be our shelter, songs to sing for all." The arrangement and musicianship on this tune are sensational.

There's so much more including two tunes that are great on their own, but either could be a smash country hit. In fact if Garth Brooks hears "Tonight I Wish I Was In Texas" he would be forced to come out of retirement to record it. Willie Nelson could really do a number with this one also, but here's the irony, Neal's strong lead vocal with Rex adding the harmony and Seth Farber's great accordion work makes this recording as damn near perfect as you could get. "Stage coach rolled across the dessert/John Ford yelled cut then . . . boys let's take that once again" – one of the amazing images in the tune. This is a Number One record and just may be the greatest love song ever written to the Lone Star state.

"Down Home" is another one that the Nashville recording establishment should be aware of. Forget Garth and Willie – one of those corporate Nashville labels should get in touch with Aztec ASAP and snatch up this CD then get this tune on CMT and country radio.

There's more. "I Don't Believe In Jesus (but I sure do love his songs)" is brilliant. Steve Goodman lives, and that is a supreme compliment. How about an acoustic blues cut about Prozac and Valium? You got it with "Better These Days." "Scotty Moore, Bill Black and Elvis" is a treatment for a screenplay about the very young king of rock and roll on tour set to a laid back Tex-Mex rhythm. There's a song called "Everybody Knows" with the words, "Change you/that's all you can do, and pray that everybody knows to do the same." Aside from sounding great, this tune contains more truth than anything currently in the Top Ten. It's a killer track!

"Days of Horses" is a warm and beautiful CD, perfect for a cold winter night. You must hear it.

 
       


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