On this, Charlie Daniels' second release, there are obvious signs of a bright future for the guitar- and fiddle-playing hillbilly rocker. Along for the ride is Joel "Taz" DiGregoria, Charlie's longtime bandmate and keyboard wizard. Taz even takes lead vocal duties on one song, "Billy Joe Young," and his ivory tickling is a highlight of this historical Southern rock document. Daniels rocks with the intensity of a downbound train on "Great Big Bunches of Love," and on his cover of the Jerry Lee Lewis chestnut "Drinkin' Wine, Spo-Dee-O-Dee." A true Southern poet, Charlie Daniels is seen here in the infancy of his artistic development, but even at this early stage, the poet is alive and well.
Eddie Daniels is such a monster on the clarinet that all of his GRP recordings are worth acquiring. This one, however, due to the somewhat commercial nature of some of the tunes (and the lightly funky rhythm sections), is of lesser interest compared to the classics such as Breakthrough. Daniels sounds fine but he is far better than much of the material (generally written by either the clarinetist, Rob Mounsey or Dave Grusin).
During 1991-92, clarinetist Eddie Daniels and vibraphonist Gary Burton teamed up on a tour, performing a tribute to Benny Goodman and Lionel Hampton. Never mind that they sound nothing at all like their predecessors. On the CD that resulted from the collaboration, the duo use pianist Mulgrew Miller (who sounds much more like McCoy Tyner than Teddy Wilson), bassist Marc Johnson and drummer Peter Erskine for 11 songs associated with the King of Swing plus Bix Beiderbecke's "In a Mist."
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Originally titled HONEY IN THE ROCK and later renamed for its hit song (Daniels's first chart entry), UNEASY RIDER is the third Charlie Daniels album, but the first to put his name on the map. In addition to his previous southern-rock-meets-Western-swing sound, the album includes a significant R&B influence, making for an intriguing country-funk style. The title track's talking blues is particularly significant for espousing a hippie/counterculture perspective on the part of a man who'd later become known for championing more conservative values.