Stir Fried,
Last of the Blue Diamond Miners
(Falbo, 2000)

Stir Fried takes country and bluegrass, fuses them with rock and funk, and creates a solid and exciting sound with broad appeal. All the songs on this CD have high energy and a good beat.

"Vanessa" starts the album with a groove which contrasts with its grim lyrics suggestive of domestic violence. "Sex Machine" isn't as serious, being heavy on the funk but with a bluegrass edge. It's a unique blend and one I liked. "Blood Brother/C'est Bonne Rue" affirms connections among people with a sound that blends elements of James Brown with a bit of Hendrix. "Quagmire" adds Creedence Clearwater Revival to the mix to excellent effect.

"West of the Mississippi" is almost traditional bluegrass in both theme and sound, with superb banjo and fiddle over a rock bass.

"Black Dress" in the album's most distinctive song, alternating between the singer's bedside vigil with his dying father and musings on life with a bluegrass sound. "Last of the Blue Diamond Miners" recounts a story, but I found it difficult to make out enough of the lyrics to follow it.

"Nothing to Do," "Road Trip to Marist" and "The Door Is Still Open" are rockers with a sound reminiscent of some of the Grateful Dead's songs. "Let it Be Known," with its lyrical female solos, adds a touch of Dylan to the mix -- I particularly liked the fiddling toward the end.

The funky pirate art on the cover is fun, and seems to reference the title song in a lighthearted way. I do wish Stir Fried had included lyrics to their songs; when an album includes songs that tell stories, it's particularly nice to be able to read the lyrics as well as hearing them. The listings of the musicians on each song were complete and interesting, though.

Stir Fried is a band that knows what it's doing and is having fun doing it. Last of the Blue Diamond Miners has a great range of songs and stands up well to repeated listening both musically and lyrically. I'd recommend it to anyone intrigued by their mix of influences ... and it would be great for lively parties, too!

[ by Amanda Fisher ]

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