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Gettin' Pretty Good At Barely Gettin' By

The Four Horsemen

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Album Review

The Four Horsemen were quite literally a shattered band come 1996. Five years on from their simplistic but infectious retro-rock debut, they'd been dropped by Def American, been abandoned by their main songwriter guiding force in founding guitarist Haggis, and, most heartbreaking of all, lost drummer Ken "Dimwit" Montgomery to a drug overdose. As the band's last remaining original members, it came down to guitarist Dave Lizmi and troubled singer Frank C. Starr (more on him later) to assemble a new lineup and attempt to shoulder the load themselves on the snidely named Gettin' Pretty Good at Barely Gettin' By. And they did an OK job. The album still featured much of the Four Horsemen's stripped-down, hard-rocking style, but standout cuts such as "Hot Rod" and the poignant "Song for Absent Friends" generally lacked the Southern Skynyrd flavor, and especially the power boogie AC/DC crunch of old. Instead, the album mostly resorted to a mellower, more soulful, decidedly sleeker Black Crowes-type groove for tracks like the title song and "Drunk Again" (note background lady singers). A few songs also forced the "we're still rockin''' storyline ad nauseam (see cheesy opener "Still Alive and Well" and the edgier, frankly biographical "Back in Business Again"), while others simply lacked originality (for example, "Livin' These Blues," which apes the debut's hit, "Tired Wings," a tad too closely). Still, the fact that's it's clearly inferior compared to its predecessor shouldn't entirely detract from this album's good-time blue-collar rock & roll, and fans of the Horsemen will likely want to give it a chance anyway. Sadly, Gettin' Pretty Good at Barely Gettin' By proved to be the final musical testament for singer Starr, who passed away under tragic circumstances a few years later.

Biography

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s

Retro-rockers the Four Horsemen were one of many late-'80s groups that decided to look backward, not forward, for inspiration. Peddling no-frills hard rock in the image of Lynyrd Skynyrd and AC/DC, their bad-boy boogie anthems temporarily endeared them to media and fans alike, but internal and external forces soon conspired to derail the band's trajectory. Englishman Haggis (born Stephen Harris) first tasted fame in the mid-'80s when he was going by the handle of Kid Chaos, the bassist for flash-in-the-pan...
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Gettin' Pretty Good At Barely Gettin' By, The Four Horsemen
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