MIKE AIKEN – “CAPTAINS and COWBOYS”By William Simpson • Sep 2nd, 2013 • Category: CD Reviews
Review by Stratman
This is the sixth studio album by Mike Aiken. I’ll be perfectly honest…. I didn’t know that he had five more before this one nor had I ever heard of Mike Aiken (is he Clay Aiken’s kin folk?). I am not sure about this album, not really sure which direction musically it is headed in. There is a mix of different genres and not having heard the other five, I am not sure what Mike is trying to accomplish here. Oh, well…. on with the review.
The first cut on the album is “Virginia” which is a tribute song to Mike’s home state. It is an okay song but the idea has been overdone by too many artists (no offence to the great state of Virginia). “Coal Train” is a really good, toe-tappin’ song. It has a groovy beat, much like the old Creedence Clearwater Revival sound of the late 1960’s. I love CCR so I am definitely diggin’ this one!
Next is “Your Memory Wins”, and this one has been done many times before. It’s the tale of a heartbroken man trying to drown his failed relationship in alcohol. I think there are too many songs like this already on the market. Not a bad song, just overdone too many times before Mike’s. “Get Down River” is a catchy tune, Mike does a good job on the vocals, and his wife does a fine job on the harmonies.
“Bring Out the Bourbon” is a good bar room song. I like the honkytonk piano in this one. The influence of Jimmy Buffet is felt on “Put A Sail On It”. It gives you “happy feet”. If you like to waltz, “Dance With the Wind” is for you. There is a tasty fiddle in it and the accordion gives it a Louisiana touch. The next song, “Save the Whales”, was written by Country Joe McDonald (yes, the same Country Joe that was the leader of the Fish at Woodstock) and Mike does this one well. Need more like this on the album.
I like “Summertime Song”. It has a good rock feel to it and makes you wanna dance. “Night Riders Lament” is a Gordon Lightfoot type of song. My favorite cut on the CD is “Take the Boy Fishin’”. This is the tune that I would be pitching to radio for airplay. The music is haunting and beautiful. The last cut is “Captains and Cowboys” and it is okay. I do enjoy the slide guitar in it.
I try very hard to be objective and not be critical of an album and when I say this, it is not meant to be harsh. This is not a strong album, although it has its moments (“Coal Train” and “Take The Boy Fishin’). The linear notes say the album was two years in the making. It also said Mike has spent the last 20 years living on a sailboat and that could explain the two years it took to finish the project. Not having heard the other offerings from Mike, I am not sure if I am correct in saying that the vocals do not seem strong enough. It does have good musicians and producers and was well recorded and mastered. Just not my cup of tea.