Out Here

Live Dallas 1999
(Mutant Pop Records)
Todd Deatherage
Todd Deatherage
Todd Deatherage and Darlington's Steve Visneau and Christy Darlington have been buddies for years, beginning when they were part of the group of friends that used the now-defunct Orbit Room as their personal clubhouse, hanging out regardless of the occasion. More than a few times, that friendship spilled onto a stage, whether it was with the Calways or Big Desoto or Darlington or something else. Last year, Deatherage hooked up with Darlington for a number of shows, briefly solving the band's long-running second-guitarist dilemma. (There are probably more guitar players in town who have been in Darlington or Mess or whatever Steve and Christy happen to be calling themselves than those who haven't.) And in the past month or so, Visneau helped Deatherage -- his former Calways bandmate -- record a few new songs, keeping Deatherage from going stir-crazy waiting for his "official" solo debut to hit stores.

It only seems right, then, that the results of both collaborations (Live Dallas 1999 and Deatherage's self-titled EP) wound up in the office on the same day, only a few hours apart, in fact -- like fraternal twins, closely related but considerably different. On the surface, the discs have almost too much in common, Side 1 and Side 2 of the same album. You could even suggest, perhaps, that the records might as well have been released together. After all, both are gap-stoppers, something to fill spaces between real albums. Both were recorded quickly and cheaply; in Darlington's case, the cost of the entire recording process appears to have amounted to the price of a blank tape. (Live Dallas 1999 was recorded directly from the Galaxy Club's soundboard, which is fine, except for the fact that there wasn't enough room on the tape for the set's final two songs. And the Galaxy Club isn't known for its sound system.) Both are light on packaging -- Live Dallas 1999 comes in a plastic sleeve, and Deatherage's disc is in an unadorned jewel case -- presumably so they can pass the savings on to you. And both feature Visneau on drums and Deatherage on guitar.

Other than that, however, the records are as different as can be; like Donny and Marie, one's a little bit country, but the other one's all rock and roll. They're both traditional, sure, but we're talking about two different traditions here: When Deatherage sings about "How Love Goes," he's doing it from the stage of a sawdust-on-the-floor honky-tonk, where he's sharing a bill with Lefty Frizzell and Hank Williams (the original, or maybe even Hank III, but not Bocephus). When Christy Darlington sings about how "Love" goes (a cut off 1998's Girltroversy), he's sandwiched between Screeching Weasel and the Ramones at CBGB's. In the end, it doesn't matter, because both discs do exactly what they're supposed to do: whet your appetite for more. Especially from Deatherage; it's been too long since we last heard from him -- 1998's Staring at the End, recorded with the Calways. And no, the MP3 of Tom Petty's "Accused of Love" that appears on his Web site (www.todddeatherage.com) doesn't count.