Take four Brits who call themselves "The Notting Hillbillies" and you'd expect a parody of American country music or -- worse -- slavish imitation. Not so with The Notting Hillbillies; they've made a CD that's dignified and classy and country-tinged. This is a CD that is original enough to listen to over and over.
I especially liked the first and last songs on the CD. "Railway Worksong" features extraordinary bluegrass banjo, guitar, and steel guitar runs and a strong vocal. I would assume that most of the fancy guitar work is by Mark Knopfler. The steel guitar is played by an American, Paul Franklin, who's as good as they come. The second great song is "Feels like Going Home" which is bluesy and sung a bit like a hybrid of Joe Cocker and Van Morrison. The notes to the CD, unfortunately, don't identify which of the Notting Hillbillies is the lead singer of these two songs.
Sixteen years after its release, on the recommendation of a friend, I ordered "Missing...presumed having a good time." As promised by other reviewers, it is a total delight, akin to discovering J.J. Cale's "Naturally" decades ago. Understated tight guitar, the presence of pedal steel, dobro, the occasional accordion or marimba and swelling of strings in the background, the traded-off vocals and resurrection of traditional gems keep this one delivering cut after cut. A 1951 Louvin Brothers-penned "Weapon of Prayer" renders Neil Young's, Natalie Maine's, Bruce Springsteen's and Billie Joe Armstrong's war protests histrionic by comparison. This CD is richly rewarding. A totally safe gamble for you to make.(Amazon Review)
And here is the signature Knopler sound you will love... YouTube Sample