David Ball

Used to be this terrific Austin trio called Uncle Walt’s Band that featured David Ball, Champ Hood and Walter Hyatt. Hyatt made some brilliant solo records before he died in the 1996 ValuJet crash in Florida, Hood just died last month at the ripe old age of 49, and now Ball’s the only one left. Ball went to Nashville to cut records for RCA, then Warner Bros., but his music always retained a hard-edged Texas swing. This set contains the somewhat maudlin hit “Riding With Private Malone,” in which the protagonist gets a good deal on a Corvette that was owned by a soldier killed in Vietnam; after he totals the car, the ghost of the soldier pulls him out. But the title cut and several other cuts are rug cutters with a relaxed, outdoor cookout-friendly ambience that drips with a particular eclecticism—swing, Tex-Mex, polka—that makes good Texas country music so much cooler than other regional variants.