For no particular reason Pure Quill by Pinto Bennett and the Famous Motel Cowboys is one of my all time favourite country albums. It's true, honest and it rocks. Nothing happens on it that pushes boundaries or changes perceptions, but it just gets me in the right places. The band played Whelans in Dublin way back to a bunch of like-minded 'honky-tonk assholes', which is another fond memory of great nights and a great live band.
Now they're back under the more democratic Famous Motel Cowboys moniker. This is an album where all the participants contribute to the songwriting, playing and lead vocals. While age has not diminished their spirit their playing is more measured and well suited to the material. These are songs that reflect on the past (Old Man In East London) and the way to a future (John Wayne, Babe Ruth and Jesus, Oil In My Lamp). They are delivered with a positivity that is uplifting. Longtime fans will be delighted with this album. This is a well played and sung collection of (mostly) original songs; songs that have been aged in old caskets which make no comprise to ageing and the pain and pleasure that it can bring. This is country music played by a "band with some sand" - real grit for real people.
Pinto Bennett, John Dow. Jim Lemmon, Mark "Sergio" Webb and Rob Matson are the Famous Motel Cowboys. As a band, they never broke beyond the honky-tonks in their heyday, but that wasn't and still isn't their mission. That mission was to be true to themselves, to be ‘pure quill’. As Phil Kaufman - the road mangler deluxe says in his sleeve notes, they have aged like a fine wine and here are eleven songs that tell stories of believable people (The Ballad of Onis and Mavis) and life's little ups and downs (Love Forsaken, Somewhere Else). As befits the democratic nature of the album the various members take their turn at the lead vocal mic while the other members add their vocals to the background.
The end result is another fine album that has warmth and wisdom and makes a fine companion and a sturdy reminder that the 'old farts' are still out there. While they are never going to be played on mainstream radio, don't let that small fact stop you from enjoying this welcome return of a great band and your chance to check into this venerable motel.