Howard Livingston and Mile Marker 24
Ah, the joys of living in Paradise... paradise as defined by a ready vat of margaritas, a reliable pair of flip-flops, and any optimism however misguided that it's actually possible to dodge a hit by a killer hurricane over the next six months or so. That's the view that inspires Howard Livingston and his ragtag band of tropical troubadours, Mile Marker 24 (aptly named for the stretch of sand they inhabit a coupla dozen miles north of Key West). So it's no surprise they offer carefree odes to the beach, booze, and perennial partying. Several songs on Blame It bring to mind a certain Key West expatriate who gained fame extolling the joys of booze in a blender. It takes only a cursory glance at the titles of such tunes as "Blame It on the Margaritas," "Local on the Eights," "Boondocks," and "Coconut Rum" to imagine Jimmy Buffett fretting over the fact that his outtakes now have competition. Fortunately, he needn't worry; Livingston taps only one outside cover, a spirited read of the Mavericks' "Dance the Night Away," sanctioned by the backup provided from two actual members of the Mavs, drummer Paul Deakin and bassist Robert Reynolds. As for instrumentation, Livingston need only apply steel drums, marimba, acoustic guitars, and a horn section to ramp up the revelry. To his credit, he sounds just as comfortable caressing as he does carousing, and it's reflected in his ample stock of tender ballads: "When I Think of You," "Love Is So Easy," and "Better Life." Does he have tears in his beers? Maybe, but it's only a slight detour from the daiquiris sliding down his throat. Lee Zimmerman
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