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Between Raising Hell and Amazing Grace

Big & Rich

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Album Review

If Comin' to Your City didn't provide the shock and awe of Horse of a Different Color, at least on chart terms, it did reveal that Big & Rich weren't a one-trick pony, destined to disappear after one huge record. But then, they were hardly one-hit wonders — they were the leaders of the Muzik Mafia, a gleeful group of tacky hucksters and savvy craftsman who remade Nashville in their own image, starting with their own music but extending far, far down, from Gretchen Wilson and Cowboy Troy to reviving John Anderson and Rich co-writing like a madman. It was the kind of mad productivity not dissimilar to modern-day hip-hop producers — they were branding left and right, bringing in everybody under their umbrella — but it sure brought up charges of spreading themselves thin, especially in the wake of the underperformance of Comin' to Your City. But even if that album didn't generate an anthem like "Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy" and even if it had a few moments where the calculation shone through their crassness, it still had a musical punch. And for its successor, Between Raising Hell and Amazing Grace, Big & Rich came up with a good gimmick: divide it into a fast side and a slow side, as if people still listened to music on LPs or cassettes. Great concept.

Biography

Formed: Nashville, TN

Genre: Country

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

A pair of gonzo country showmen initially shunned by the Nashville mainstream but eventually becoming the face of Music City as the 2000s drew to a close, Big & Rich were the most unlikely country success story of the new millennium. They didn't appear from nowhere, but when Horse of a Different Color exploded in 2004, it sure seemed like they did, memories of John Rich's time in Lonestar vanishing, along with any trace of Big Kenny's years struggling on the fringes of major-label studios. In...
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Between Raising Hell and Amazing Grace, Big & Rich
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