Lost Dakotas: Last Train to Kipling (1991)


AMG REVIEW: The Lost Dakotas began as a duo, busking on the streets and in the subways of Toronto, only later expanding into a full, four-piece band. Judging by the results captured on their initial CD release, Last Train to Kipling (the title a reference to a stop on the Toronto subway line), the experience of playing live on the street helped to shape the band's stripped-down, mostly acoustic sound. While a few of the tracks here border on the repetitious ("To Love Someone," "Hooked on You," and "Thing for You" all mine very similar lyrical veins), overall, lead vocalist Paul Dakota establishes himself as a fine lyricist, particularly on the haunting "California," while the band distinguish themselves with beautiful vocal harmonies and stellar musicianship. The lead track, "Over You," was a regional hit for the band, despite falling prey to the tired "too country for rock radio, too rock for country radio" argument. The disc concludes with the band blasting through a raucous cover of the AC/DC classic "Back in Black" before slowing things down with a moving version of the traditional folk song "Wild Rover." In all, Last Train to Kipling is a solid folk-rock record with above-average lyrical content. — Robert Kaups


Lost Dakotas: Sun Machine (1993)


AMG REVIEW: On Sun Machine, the Lost Dakotas make the shift from the acoustic-based folk-rock of Last Train to Kipling to a harder-edged country-rock sound. The transition seems a natural progression for the band. Paul Dakota continues to distinguish himself as a songwriter on this release, especially on "Down," "Almost Underground," and "New Words of Love." The band pays tribute to little-known Canadian singer/songwriter Handsome Ned with a version of Ned's song "Lost Weekend." Claiming in the liner notes that "Two Neds are better then one," the band also gamely tackles an oddity track by Ned Sublette, "Cowboys Are Frequently Secretly Fond of Each Other." Virtually ignored on its initial release, Sun Machine stands up as a worthwhile country-rock effort and, unfortunately, the last release from a unique Canadian band. — Robert Kaups