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Honest and good country music



Not all bands are able to capture the magic of their work live, but the Texas country outfit Mark Jungers And The Whistling Mules pass the test with flying colours.


Recorded in the main at the states' famed Gruene Hall in 2006 with additional tracks from a show in 2001 at the Cheatham Street Warehouse in San Marcos, TX Jungers and the boys work up a head of steam. With both venues steeped in history of having many great acts play there, the former famed hall is especially is noted as place where people appreciate real country music.


While Jungers is no Jerry Jeff Walker or Chris Wall or for that matter Robert Earl Keen, Texans who shoot straight from the hip and revel in surroundings of the likes of Gruene Hall but, through the nine songs from there he does enough to suggest he may one day bring crowds equal to the above. As for now, Mid-West born and raised Mark and the band is a compact and impressive unit never guilty of cranking it up when there is no need.


All but two of the thirteen songs are self-penned, and the ones he did import are the well-chosen tunes from Jason Ringenburg and John Dillon respectively of 'Price Of Progress' and 'Walking Down The Road'. The former laments of how we have suffered at the hands of progress. Farmers on this occasion being the fall guy, and as for the other the music comes at the listener at all angles as mandolin, guitars, harmonica and rhythm section press relentlessly forward. Honest and good country music.


Of his own songs, the easy loping 'Black Limousine' coupled with the steadily paced 'We Won't Be Long' where acoustic lead guitar, mandolin and upright bass produce lots of drive, and just as you are thinking the formula is laid out up pops the beautiful, intricate ballad 'It Ain't Funny'. A song well suited to John Prine on a good day អsuch the fashion Mark writes and, the good stuff doesn't stop there. Since the sombre 'Remorse Waltz' likewise has quality stamped all over it. From the quartet of older recordings, Jungers and the boys even then played it tight as they deliver among others 'Don't Take Your Guns To Town', inspired by the song of the same title by Johnny Cash it typifies the freedom of Jungers' creative talent.


Maurice Hope, Americana UK





Beat Surrender

Silos and Smokestacks the title track from Mark Jungers 2007 album has been a favourite tune of mine since I first heard it and one that I regularly throw into mixtapes, Jungers latest album More Like a Good Dog Than a Bad Cat album kicks of with a similarly infectious track which sets things up nicely for Jungers twangy roots signature sound, the man himself contributes to all but one of the tunes, Heel to Toe" (Philip Stevens), there are co-writes with some familiar names Adam Carroll and Owen Temple. Susan Gibson ("Wide Open Spaces") also appears on several tracks adding some sweet harmony vocals to the mix. A true hands on project Jungers also recorded and produced the CD, opting for analogue only with no post digital editing keeping things nicely organic, no pretence, straight up and all the better for it in keeping the the fella's rural roots


Simon, Beat Surrender