Legend of Jim Collins reviewed in Flagpole Magazine


THE JUDGE & THE JURY The legend of Jim Collins (Pizzle)

Apart from the current fluff percolating out of Nashville these days, per-haps the most maligned era-of country music has be the early '80s "Urban Cowboy movement," and Elvis strike me down if I know why. Sure, the excess in both terms of production and crossover attempts were a bit silly, but all the classic elements of true country music were there. Songs about heart-break, cheatin' and lyin', and, of course,  drinkin' to excess were the norm. While they may not have written a lot of their tunes, guys like Gene Watson, Don Williams, John Conlee and John Anderson sang with such emotion and feeling and pain that you couldn't help but sympathize and, indeed, empathize better than you could with these New Hat country hunks or even these-ever-so-earnest alt-country upstarts. We'd been there, brother, and so had they, and that's what country music is all about. That same sort of whiskey-soaked pathos percolates through the-new one by Savannah outfit The Judge & The Jury, entitled The Legend Of Jim Collins. Don't get me wrong, this doesn't sound like early '80s country. The production is sparse and stripped down, lacking any of the overblown excess of the mechanical bull crowd. This just feels like '80s country. It has the heart, the humor and the hurt that keeps that era so special in the jukebox of my mind.
Singer-songwriter Aaron Parrett has a wonderfully twangy voice, and his skill as a lyricist is extremely strong. Tunes like "(I'm Gonna) 18 Wheel You Off My Mind" and "Hog Wire and Pliers" has that sort of good--natured if somewhat dark humor that's  missing in so much of any form of modern country music.
Parrett also has quite a knack for Robert Earl Keen/Steve Earle-style balladry. Tunes like "Texas" and "EI Cuchillo" paint strong music pictures 01 lovers, losers, outlaws and heroes. Parrett is ably backed up by a cracker-jack band, which includes the formi-dable steel guitar skills of Star Room Boy John Neff. The band particularly shines on the romping instrumental "Bakery Ladies' Special and the ribald traditional number "Black-eyed Suzie." Along with the Star Room Boys, Slim Chance & The Convicts, Greta Lee and Redneck GReece, The Judge & The Jury are a welcome addition to this area's growing pure country music scene. It's been said before but it's worth repeating: Nashville would do well to turn its collective eyes south  and check out what country music should be. Indeed, The Legend Of Jim Collins, as well as The Judge & The Jury, makes for a perfect background to toss back a few cold beers and drown yourself in the ghosts of the past. It just feels like home.
--Matt Thompson, Flagpole Magazine October 2000