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A reunion in fine voice

Still Burnin'
Still Burnin'
By Batdorf & Rodney

Self-released: 2008

This review first appeared in Turbula in September 2008.

While the soft-rock duo partnership was a highly successful format in the late 1960s and early 1970s, with Simon & Garfunkel and Seals & Crofts riding to the top of the charts, Batdorf & Rodney were a bit of a hidden treasure from that era, with only three albums released from 1971-'75 (and on three different labels).

After a somewhat acrimonious split in 1975, John Batdorf remained active in music through the 1980s before moving into television soundtrack production, while health issues pushed Mark Rodney (son of famed jazz trumpeter Red Rodney) out of music altogether for many years.

But when Batdorf began playing, touring and recording his own music again a few years ago, fans wanted to see him with his old partner. A few one-off live shows together led to Batdorf & Rodney heading into the studios at XM satellite radio to re-record old favorites from those three long-ago LPs (all out of print), as well as a couple of new songs.

The photos on the CD sleeve show that Father Time has been actively involved with both men, but when it comes to their singing and guitar playing, not so much. If anything, their guitar work has only improved with experience, and Batdorf's singing voice retains its ability to soar goregously atop the melody, while Rodney's harmony vocals are a perfect match. Their takes on old faves like "Me and My Guitar," "One Day" and "Home Again" sound even better than the originals.

As for the two new tracks, "Summer of Love" is an ode to flower power, both in the lyrics and in its style. "Four Days Runnin' " is more rock than most of their material, which has always shaded toward the folk side of things.

But they're in fine voice here, the new songs fit perfectly with the old, and listening to this inevitably leads to the hope that it's just the start of a new period of activity from the two men.