Backstabbers Country Stringband

The current semi-revival of old time music, courtesy of O Brother Where Art Thou?, is of course both a blessing and a curse. A blessing because it hopefully means these songs will survive in the coming century, but a curse because already many are hopping on the bandwagon. Where the Backstabbers fit into the equation is anybody's guess. The Toronto quintet has had a Sunday residency at the Cameron House since last year and this album certainly sounds authentic. The three principles, Tom "the Colonel" Parker (mandolin), Bob Hannan (guitar) and Tony Allen (fiddle), are all fiery players with fine harmonies and their repertoire hits all the crucial points ("Been All Around This World," "Dark As A Dungeon," "Omie Wise") but the presentation overall seems merely quaint and the recording dull. I'm not saying these guys don't have it together - they write their own tunes too - but I couldn't help recalling something Mick Jagger once said: "Why would someone want to listen to us do 'I'm A King Bee' when they can hear Slim Harpo do it?" Excuse me while I get out my Stanley Brothers albums; I guess I'll have to hear the Backstabbers live. (Independent)