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Banastre Tarleton Band
Columbia, MO

The Crown Jewels

(Green Horse Records '95)
reissued 2002

Pyrrhic Victories


Musicianship – 9 out of 10

One thing is certain when you hear the work of Banastre Tarleton’s past; his work as a musician, and his ability to surround himself with similarly talented people are first rate!  I can imagine that seeing one of his shows back in the day was an awesome experience!  His keyboard work is really good, no matter what era you’re listening to!  He has also worked with excellent guitarists that could play almost any style, including his current writing/playing partner in Oatmeal for the Foxhounds, Dave McGowan!  Bassists and drummers also did a great job! 

I think for some reason, the era during which Banastre was prolific was a very romantic period for Rock and Roll.  Experimentation with different sounds was encouraged, and musicians seemed to have more of a spirit and a feel for what true Rock and Roll was!  Perhaps I’m partial because I remember the times with fondness…  I don’t know.  I just know that I really enjoyed the experience of hearing Banastre Tarleton’s music on The Crown Jewels and Pyrrhic Victories.  He is an excellent musician, and I respect his talent a great deal!
Songwriting – 8 out of 10

By now, many of you have probably read the differing viewpoints that my wife Jenny and I have shared with regard to the music/songwriting of Banastre’s latest project Oatmeal for the Foxhounds.  I have to say that my opinions regarding that project are totally separate from the opinions regarding Banastre’s early work.  These two albums contain some real gems, and I liked hearing his stuff.  I also like the fact that his opinions differ in a lot of areas from that of mainstream ‘politically correct’ thought in Rock and Roll.  Apparently, Banastre was quite the Hawk, as songs like (Attack Iraq), (We Got To Invade Grenada), and (Rockin’ With America) provide a thoroughly patriotic spirit!   There are plenty of Rock anthems as well, mixed in with songs about the high life of the Rock star, and those about loves won and lost.  He has written a lot of songs that are really good!

Above all, I get a sense that as Banastre compiled these anthologies, he had a very bittersweet feeling.  The first compilation is entitled The Crown Jewels, indicating a feeling that treasures the works included!  His next compilation, though, is entitled Pyrrhic Victories.  The explanation is given that a Pyrrhic victory is a victory won at too great a cost.  Could that indicate some sense of loss after all the success?  I’m not sure, but the fact that Banastre put his heart and soul into his music the first time indicates that he would probably do it all over again the same way if given the opportunity.  It’s this ‘tortured soul’ sense that makes for good songs, and good songwriting.  My hat is off to him for creating memorable tunes!

Sound Quality/Professionalism – 7.5 out of 10

When the comments concern projects like this, I give a lot of leeway when speaking about sound quality.  Recording technology has come a long way, and artists using simple 4-track recorders today can make recordings that sound as professional as studio releases of the 60s and 70s!  You just know that when you hear stuff that is archival in nature that it’s going to sound a little dated.  You expect that, and enjoy it just the same!  To me, the quality on these recordings is very good!  Using professional studios and some of the best technology available at the time, Banastre created songs that rocked!  He was, and is, a guy who is aware of how good music sounds, and works to create the best sound in a unique and very specific way. 

Perhaps one of the best examples I can give from these recordings of the quality involved is the track (Hindenburg).  It is a rocking track that shows the virtuoso quality of Banastre’s music, and the awesome sound that he and his band were capable of making!  Give it a listen and I’m sure you’ll agree!

Packaging – 8 out of 10

Banastre has a flair for what looks cool on an album cover, and these recordings are no exception.  Featuring his trademark ‘BTB’ logo, and the military regalia of the soldier/crest, each album cover reflects the tastes that he has for his heritage and for his regal standing in the world of Rock and Roll.  He also does a good job of including cool photos and information about the tracks/people that made the music.  There’s nothing complicated about either package, but they look good and function well just the same.  Good job!

Favorite Tracks
Send Me an Invitation
Alone on an Island
Electric Women
Attack Iraq
Mary Jane
I’m Wired
Sweet Virgin Blues
She’s Faraway

Overall Rating – 8 out of 10

When Banastre asked me to review some of his studio work that was done pre-Oatmeal for the Foxhounds, I was excited to do so, and nervous at the same time.  I wasn’t afraid of offering my opinion, because I had done so and Banastre respected my opinion!  However, I hate listening and having to say things that are negative in nature.  The relief that I felt in hearing his music, and really enjoying it was priceless!

I like Banastre Tarleton as a person, as a musician, and as a songwriter!  He is an example of the sort of person that is able to make music that comes from the heart, and who also makes the world he lives in a better place to be.  He is the type of guy that puts everything he’s got into his art, but doesn’t come off as a person who takes himself too seriously.  This is the kind of music/musician that I don’t mind helping support at all, and if he needs a recommendation or something, I hope he knows that he can count on me as a friend who will help!

Definitely get yourself a copy of these two CDs, The Crown Jewels and Pyrrhic Victories.  You will enjoy every bluesy, artsy, Rock and Roll minute!
Mark Lush,, 8/16/05


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