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World Music CD Reviews North American

JIMMY STURR

By Marty Lipp
Published March 24, 2006

Top Of The World
Rounder

We live in a cynical age, which is to say one that is not conducive to polka. Still, Jimmy Sturr keeps at it, not that he’s gone unrecognized. The American Polka King has won 11 Grammies and his devotees have bought millions of his records. Sturr’s goal is to move polka toward the U.S. mainstream, so he often plays atypical fare (here, a mismatched “The Devil Went Down To Georgia” and the winningly silly “Guacamole”) and collaborates with non-polka guest stars. On his latest, Sturr has Arlo Guthrie singing “The City Of New Orleans” and “This Land is Your Land.” The normally laid-back Guthrie sounds like someone slipped him amphetamines as he skeedaddles with the band chasing him around the dance floor. Bluegrass star Rhonda Vincent gives a country flavor to the Carpenters’ “Top of The World.” Newcomers might think they’ve time-tripped back to the Lawrence Welk show, but Sturr puts more snap into his tunes. Hipsters might recoil from all the sunniness and patriotism, but Sturr and his followers keep on bouncing toward the light.