Apparently, Dave Biller ran out of existing styles to master and had to start making up new ones. His work as leader and sideman – all of the highest order – has ranged from diesel-fumed country to western swing a la Jimmy Bryant to Django gypsy jazz to southern-fried soul and more. “Texotica” is about as good a label (and title) as any to describe the styles he covers on these 13 original instrumentals with Austin’s Bobby Horton.
The program quickly mood-swings from bouncy hillbilly to the twang of “Deep Eddy” (as in Duane) to the Hawaiian lounge of “Tiki Tiki,” complete with sped-up Les Paul effects. Horton sticks mainly to pedal-less steel (switching to lead for “Deep Eddy” and “Slippin’ The Mickey”- no doubt a nod to Mr. Baker) with Biller’s bopping lead guitar and propulsive rhythm (as well as six-string bass on “Eddy”).
Elsewhere, cuts like “The New Thang” are reminiscent of guitar instrumental albums of the ’60s (right down to the semi-generic title), where studio or country pickers took a shot at go-go music. “Mood Music For A Tropical Depression” has a quasi-Asian feel, with Biller contributing a piano solo in the Martin Denny mode. For “Texas Twilight” Dave cranks up the treble sting a la Johnny “Guitar” Watson or Jimmie Vaughan, and “Dutch Treat” (a reference to Barney Kessel’s “Swedish Pastry”?) is straight-ahead swinging jazz, regardless of the instrumentation.
Keeping things in the families, brother Billy Horton supplies upright bass (except where Dave spells him on electric bass) and Dave’s wife, Karen Biller, plays vibes on a couple of cuts. Buck Johnson is the drummer throughout, with T. Jarrod Bonta’s honky-tonk piano on two tracks and Erik Hokkanen supplying fiddle on “The Devil’s Birthday Party.”
As if the CDs and song titles weren’t indication enough, Dave and Bobby sound like they were having lots of fun in the studio, and the pair make a great team. Their great chops combined with a sense of humor should remind collectors of another lead/steel duo – although you have to reach back almost 50 years.
This article originally appeared in VG‘s July ’03 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.