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[Off The Record]
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Delbert McClinton
(New West)

An inspiration to late-bloomers of all stripes, Nothing Personal may be the best album of 60-year-old roadhouse rocker Delbert McClinton’s 40-year recording career. Written entirely by McClinton and partners like long-time band member Gary Nicholson, it boasts stylistic touches from Nashville, South Texas, and swamp Louisiana in the music, and originality, wit, and heart in the words Delbert so convincingly sings.

The Tex-Mex ballad " When Rita Leaves " may be his lifetime-achievement award. The story within a story has Rita not just leaving " A lipstick letter on the mirror " but taking the protagonist’s " Sky-blue ragtop Mustang, 1964, " which she drives till it dies in the desert. " Her mama knew I was takin’ it hard/She said she was sorry about my car " is enough to make a strong man fill his tank with tears. But most of Nothing Personal — an ironic title, because the songs seem very personal — rocks and rolls with controlled abandon. Only " Don’t Leave Home Without It " submits to cliché. Best is the opener " Livin’ It Down, " in which Delbert sings, out of habit, " I got the short end of the chicken, she got the golden goose. " Not this time, partner: as far as art is concerned, her goose is cooked, and he got the golden eggs.


Issue Date: April 5 - 11, 2001

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