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Music Review: The Bacon Brothers – Philadelphia Road – The Best of The Bacon Brothers

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Philadelphia Road – The Best of The Bacon Brothers is a complilation of the best tracks from The Bacon Brothers’ first three albums, recorded over the past 15 years, plus “Unhappy Birthday,” which was recorded after 9/11 and remixed for the 10th anniversary of that event.

The Bacon Brothers are, of course, Kevin and Michael Bacon. They are decent musicians and songwriters, and this CD proves that music is more than a novelty for Kevin. However, of the two endeavors, certainly Kevin Bacon is more exceptional as an actor than he is as a singer or songwriter. (Michael is known as a go-to composer for documentaries and film scores.)

In fact, while the 18 songs on this CD include some I really like, overall I feel that many of the numbers lack a real spark. There’s nothing wrong with them, but they just never really cause an emotional connection with me.

It should be said that I have not heard the other albums, and do not know if there may be material on them which I would respond to more strongly. These are the songs that the brothers themselves chose as “the best of,” however, so I assume they are representative.

Of the songs I do like, most of them are at the beginning of the CD. My favorite is “Old Guitars,” with its nostalgic recitation of song titles I recognize and a sense of the fun of musical discovery. That song has a bit of grit to it. I also like “Boys in Bars,” another song that has a rockier feel and a nostalgic theme.

“Unhappy Birthday” is a song with depth and great harmonies about 9/11, and definitely a worthwhile listen.

“Guess Again” is a clever song about who we are and who we’d like to be, but it wears a bit thin by the end. “Only a Good Woman” is a pretty good country ballad with the much-used theme of how a good woman is the only thing that can make life worth while for a man. “Ten Years in Mexico” is pretty, with some nice harmonies. “Guilty of the Crime,” is a more recent collaboration with The Bellamy Brothers and definitely one of the livelier and more memorable tracks on the recording.

For the rest of the songs, there’s nothing actually wrong with them. Some of them remind me of Jimmy Buffet with less humor, or James Taylor at his most earnest. They are all pretty laid back, and while the tempo varies from tune to tune, none of it has much fire or excitement.

The only song I really didn’t care for at all is “She’s the Heart,” which I feel is overdone, overly melodramatic, and a bit trite as well.

However, if you like your music relaxing and tranquil and you’re really fond of folk rock ballads, then this collection may be just what you are looking for. There’s some nice musical arrangements, some good harmonies, and some clever lines.

I suppose the bottom line is that for me, with the exceptions noted above, the majority of this CD just was too smooth, too clever, too laid back, and too lacking in real emotional connection. I would have liked to have heard more versatility, more of an edge, and a lot more soul.

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About Rhetta Akamatsu

I am an author of non-fiction books and an online journalist. My books include Haunted Marietta, The Irish Slaves, T'ain't Nobody's Business If I Do: Blues Women Past and Present, Southern Crossroads: Georgia Bluesand Sex Sells: Women in Photography and Film.
  • Mo Locke

    Thank you for your review and while I have been a fan of the Bacon Brothers music and love to defend their music to the end of time I can’t help but agree with you on one thing, this collection, in my opinion, does not represent their “best of” from their years in the business. It doesn’t even represent their best from the first 3 cds. The only song on here from their 3rd cd is Unhappy Birthday and that’s a remix. This is honestly a collection of bests from cd 1 and 2 and I always tell people the same when they ask me which cd best represents the Bacon Brothers music. I tell people this is a good cd that best represents their early work but to get a real feel for who they are as a band now their last 2 cds, especially their last, New Year’s Day, is representative of who they are today. This band is constantly evolving and anyone who listens to their collection from beginning to end can see that. The band is tighter and is more involved in the song writing and recording process today and it shows in their performance as a live band as well. That’s where the real appreciation comes, when you see them live. But don’t take my word for it. If you have a chance, go to their website The Bacon Brothers to get a peek at their upcoming shows and try to catch them live. If you can’t do that than at least have a listen to their White Knuckles and New Years Day cds and experience the evolution of the Bacon Brothers first hand.

  • Thanks for the information! I had a strong feeling I wasn’t hearing the best work and I have heard other people say they are great live. If I get a chance, I will definitely see them if they ever come around Atlanta!