June 07, 1999 12:00 PM

Montgomery Gentry (Columbia)

The title of their first CD may sound like the billing for a TV wrestling show, but Eddie Montgomery and Troy Gentry are a first-rate country duo with the rough-and-tumble energy of Brooks & Dunn and sweet, two-part harmony that often recalls the Everly Brothers. Although the duo grew up and learned their craft in and around Lexington, Ky., they present a polished Nashville veneer and a nice mix of material ranging from the trenchant title song to the honky-tonkish “All Night Long” (whose cowriter, Charlie Daniels, contributes a backing vocal). Even the track “Hillbilly Shoes,” its title notwithstanding, has more gloss and less of the rustic, bluegrassy sound than might have been expected from Kentucky-bred country artists. (Indeed, a bit more of that bluegrass flavoring might add to the pair’s appeal.) Even so, that kind of refinement can wait for the followup album that Montgomery Gentry has clearly earned.

Bottom Line: Smooth debut

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