HOLDIN' ONTO TROUBLE'S HAND - Pat Todd and the Rank Outsiders (Rankoutsider Records)
For over 20 years, the Lazy Cowgirls were a reliable source for rip-roaring rock and roll. In 2003, after the release of the honorable "I'm Goin Out" and "Get Hurt Tonight", the band called it a day.

In their wake, the Cowgirls left behind a legendary history of live performances and releases. Over the next three years, front man/vocalist Pat Todd assembled a new band (with some old friends), played a few gigs and eagerly recorded new material.

Two years ago, Pat Todd and his Rank Outsiders delivered the incredible two-CD set "The Outskirts of Your Heart"; for a debut collection, the hard work paid off with 28 quality songs - no filler! Now, poised to strike with the new release "Holdin' Onto Trouble's Hand", the band continues to further enhance an already sterling resume.

"Where the Sidewalk Ends is a perfect introduction to the band: Catchy vocals, infectious chorus, blistering Berry on amphetamine leads and a nice touch: a rolling bass pedal from Bob Deagle pushing the song along.

"All Around The World" demonstrates a Southern rock feel. Todd's gritty but full vocals add depth to the bluesy roar of guitarists Alexander and Bolger's guitarwork. "You're Alone Again" revisits this territory but instead adds a nice Stones touch. The band has got that awesome honky tonk sound!

Producer Earle Mankey distills a crystal clear sound for the band. All the instruments, vocals and the band's highly energetic performances are perfectly captured and mixed. No one needs to look any further than tracks such as "Dangerous Times - Dead Ahead" (listen to Todd's vocal phrasing at it's start 'nothing but a junkie'); "Long Love Letter" (sounding like a lost Heartbreakers track); and 'Secret Heart" to find proof in the production offered by Mankey.

Further evidence of the band's talent is offered in the acoustic moments on Holdin' Onto Trouble's Hand. "Wrong Turn (Acoustic)" is pure bliss. Here, Mr. Todd and his band mates create the perfect mood to elaborate on the human condition of making choices - accepting consequences. Smoky leads, slide guitar and a fat bass offer little description for an emotional song by this band. Nice work. Another song "There's Nothin' For Me Here" introduces pedal steel to the band's sound. Devoutly country, the song is successful in execution and offers another view of the CD. The band's Midwestern roots are clear on these two tracks.

In the musical world of Pat Todd, he is determined to keep alive the musical dreams of his youth spent growing up in Indiana. Todd's time as a young man, one can infer from his classic songwriting approach, was spent listening to the guitar tag teams of Sylvain/Thunders and Taylor/Richards. The country sounds of Williams, Dylan, and Parsons must have offered sweet solace as well as much needed respite from all that teen angst. In closing, Pat Todd and the Rank Outsiders are creating music that is honest, free of pretension and beautifully played. - Arthur S