BILLY BOB THORNTON "The Boxmasters" Vanguard

Can actor Billy Bob Thornton sing? Yes, he can.
Can actor Billy Bob Thornton sing? Yes, he can. (By Jack Plunkett -- Associated Press)
Friday, August 22, 2008

BILLY BOB THORNTON"The Boxmasters"Vanguard

THE BEATLES LOVED Buck Owens, and Billy Bob Thornton loves them both. "The Boxmasters," his trio's self-titled debut, is testimony to the Oscar winner and Arkansas-bred drummer's lasting affection for '60s transatlantic sounds.

A swiftly disarming two-disc set, "The Boxmasters" salutes vintage honky-tonk and seminal Brit-rock with a mixture of humor, pathos and unhinged attitude. Disc 1 is devoted to original songs written (or co-written) by Thornton. Some of the most memorable tunes are equipped with barbed lyrics -- the lacerating "I'll Give You a Ring," for example -- but nearly all of them hit their mark. With his deadpan delivery and gift for tale-spinning, Thornton gets the job done in his own rueful way on "The Last Place They Would Look" and other standout tracks, amid plenty evocative guitar work from J.D. Andrew and Michael Wayne Butler. Disc 2 is more buoyant and colorful, thanks to quirky, countrified takes on hits by the Beatles ("I Wanna Hold Your Hand"), the Who ("The Kids Are Alright") and Chad and Jeremy ("Yesterday's Gone"), plus offbeat nods to musicians as varied as Mel Tillis and Ian Hunter.

Granted, you might not have as much fun listening to "The Boxmasters" as Thornton obviously had recording it. But even if you enjoy the music half as much, you'll get your money's worth.

-- Mike Joyce

Appearing tonight at Rams Head Tavern in Annapolis (410-268-4545, Show starts at 7 p.m.

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