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For the last 10 years, fans have been asking us the same question: 'When are you gonna do another album?' " booms Harold Reid, the distinctive bass voice - and resident comedian - of The Statler Brothers. "Well, now, we've got it - thanks to a presidential pardon from Bill Clinton."
The Statlers' new album, Showtime, didn't actually require an act of government. Just an act of faith.
Harold's brother, Don, explains. "This is our first album of original music in 10 years, and we felt the time was perfect," he says. "The fans said they were ready for it."
And the Statlers - Harold, Don, Phil Balsley and Jimmy Fortune - were ready with new material from a familiar writing pool: their own families.
Don, Harold and Jimmy wrote the bulk of the tunes. But Harold's daughter, Kim Reid Weller, also contributed a pair of songs, while Langdon and Wil Reid, the respective sons of Don and Harold, penned three tracks.
"They have been writers for a long time," says Don with understated pride, "and our kids have grown up knowing what we like."
But Harold cautions, "We still critique their songs. If something they write doesn't fit our style, we won't do it."
The Statlers' style sticks to a proven method that embraces songs celebrating family values and true love, done in crisp four-part harmony.
"We have a core of very loyal fans," says Don, "so we try not to do anything that might be foreign or shocking to them."
Their loyal legions were shocked, though, when TNN canceled the Statlers' popular variety series, The Statler Brothers Show, back in 1998. But Don admits, "Frankly, we have enjoyed the break from television. It has given us time to get back to touring, which is a little more kicked back than TV."
Harold gets a playful gleam in his eye. "Actually," he cracks, "we could return - if television ever brings back tag-team wrestling. Don and I can take Phil and Jimmy any day."
-- Bob Paxman