Picks and Pans Review: Heart on a Sleeve

UPDATED 05/20/1985 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 05/20/1985 at 01:00 AM EDT

Tom Russell

Born in Los Angeles and having lived in Texas, San Francisco and Europe, Russell is a Brooklyn cowboy these days, but his songs still have a witty-gritty down-home feeling: "You don't put beans in chili/You never water good whiskey down/And never play poker with a man named 'Doc'/On the Spanish side of town." (Gallo de Cielo, which is about a cockfight, may be a little too gritty and down-home for some tastes.) He also sings with a roughly textured voice that has the character of Tom T Hall's, without the schmaltz. Maybe he never actually ate a bowl of red or saw a cockfight, but he sure can make you believe he did. For all his ability and a sturdy country band that notably includes steel guitarist Buddy Cage, Russell has had to press and distribute this record himself. He deserves a better fate—or at least more exposure. (End of the Trail Music, Box 3157, Ridgewood, Queens, N.Y. 11385, $9.50)

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