For this album, WoV went through two line-up changes, the most significant of which was lead singers. A few critics have chastised this record for trying to continue the sound of their previous two LPs – feeling they should’ve made a clean break. Why? I own the prior two records, Dark Continent and Call of the West and while both have their highlights, I’ve never been able to get into them 100%. They’re very much acquired tastes.
On the other hand, this record grabbed me from the first chord of The Far Side of Crazy. The album is not as randomly quirky as the previous two but there is nowhere near the over-reaching variety which makes those records so challenging. There’s more of a unity on Sammystown. It gels better.
From infectiously fun trifles like Room with a View to the deadly serious messages of (Don’t Spill) My Courage, this record moves along with a groovy tight theme. In fact, I’ll say there isn’t a stand-out poor track on it. Big City is the album highlight, a wonderful piece of pseudo-cowboy twang that slithers along with its cold Boot Hill rhythm.
There’s no difficult third album syndrome here – it’s all good.
What a shame it all fell apart with their next record, Happy Planet.