Friday, January 28, 2022

Anarchy In The Music City! The Other Side of Nashville's Musical Pioneers

Anarchy In The Music City!
Since the early 1960s, Nashville has been known worldwide as the "Music City" for its robust country and gospel music industries. For over 40 years now, Nashville has also been home to a thriving hotbed of rock, blues, rap, and Americana music. "The Other Side of Nashville" has grown from a few makeshift bands playing original songs and scraping for gigs into an internationally-respected scene that has attracted creative immigrants from across the globe.

Anarchy In The Music City! is an oral history of the origins and evolution of Nashville's alternative music scene as told by the pioneers that made the music. Using artist interviews culled from the pages of Rev. Keith A. Gordon's critically-acclaimed book The Other Side of Nashville, this illustrated volume includes conversations with both well-known music-makers like Jason & the Scorchers, Webb Wilder, Tony Gerber, David Olney, and Chagall Guevara as well as regional cult rockers like Tommy Womack, the Dusters, Donna Frost, and Aashid Himons, among many others.  

The “Reverend of Rock ‘n’ Roll,” Rev. Gordon has been writing about rock and blues music for 50 years. A former contributor to the All Music Guide books and website, and the former Blues Expert for, Rev. Gordon has written or edited 25 previous music-related books and eBooks, including Blues Deluxe: The Joe Bonamassa Buying Guide, Planet of Sound, The Other Side of Nashville, and Scorched Earth: A Jason & the Scorchers Scrapbook.

Buy an autographed copy for $14.99 directly from the Reverend:

Prefer to buy from Here's a link to the print version of Anarchy In The Music City! (also available as a Kindle eBook)

Archive Review: Bruce Springsteen's The Ghost of Tom Joad (1996)

Bruce Springsteen's The Ghost of Tom Joad
Rock ‘n’ roll has long been the voice of the working man and woman. From the R&B rave-ups of Chuck Berry to John Fogerty’s finely-drawn songs to the Motor City anthems of Bob Seger and beyond, the music has reflected the blue collar worker in a way that even country and the blues has been unable. It has expressed the joy, the fears and the passions of the average American, and although it’s largely too “untrendy” these days to hit the hype-driven sales charts, ‘blue collar rock’ is still alive and well, a thriving milieu for a diverse breed of poets and prophets.

Bruce Springsteen’s The Ghost of Tom Joad

During the 1980s, Bruce Springsteen became the predominate voice of the working class, with rocking anthems like “Born In the U.S.A.” or the more introspective “My Hometown” championing the average man and woman and their cause. It was during this period of time that he experienced his greatest commercial success as an artist, and it was during this time that he began the process of political self-awareness that would eventually lead to The Ghost of Tom Joad. Touring the country endlessly during mid-decade, Springsteen began to get involved with “causes,” performing benefit shows for various organizations and donating some of his hard-earned, if newly found wealth to food banks and funds for laid-off workers (which is when he first crossed paths with Joe Grushecky).
The more politically-oriented of us among his fan base have waited for Springsteen to cut loose with a more radical lyrical perspective for years. With The Ghost of Tom Joad, Springsteen has made that artistic statement, phrasing it in the language of folk artists like Woody Guthrie and backing it with a sparse, minimal acoustic soundtrack that emphasizes the lyrics and creates an atmosphere as dark and desolate as the songs themselves often are. The last relic of a musical age almost a decade gone, Springsteen reinvents himself with this album, in a way that even his folksy Nebraska couldn’t. The album’s format as radical as the statement it makes. Nearly fifteen years into the ongoing destruction of the great American middle class, The Ghost of Tom Joad describes what we’ve lost in terms stronger and sadder than any artist of Springsteen’s stature ever has.
Springsteen has been moving in this direction for quite some time, if articles and interviews are to be believed. It was his chance discovery of the wonderful 1985 book Journey To Nowhere by writer Dale Maharidge and photographer Michael Williamson, however, that inspired Springsteen to create The Ghost of Tom Joad. A collection of stark, ultra-realistic images from America’s growing underclass, matched by Maharidge’s terse prose, Journey To Nowhere is an excellent and damning documentation of the Reagan legacy. The Ghost of Tom Joad strives to become the aural version of the book, and does a fine job of it, Springsteen’s tightly-wound and desolate tales of life in the new world presenting a disturbing vision of the America of the ‘90s.


Vivid imagery abounds in every song, Springsteen outdoing even his usual high standards. Referring to his early material, where the road was a metaphor for escape and fraught with endless possibility, these days it’s just another dead end. “The highway is alive tonight/But nobody’s kiddin’ nobody about where it goes....” sings Springsteen on the title cut, the song a lyrical portrait of the dispossessed. “Hot soup on a campfire under the bridge/shelter line stretchin’ ‘round the corner/welcome to the new world order/families sleepin’ in their cars in the Southwest/no home no job no peace no rest.”
The subject matter of The Ghost of Tom Joad is diverse and all-inclusive, its characters brilliantly portrayed, from the ex-con desperately trying to stay true in the face of temptation on “Straight Time” to the border patrol officer questioning his life in “The Line.” From the homeless to the haunted, the hustlers looking for a quick buck or the forlorn lover, The Ghost of Tom Joad relates their story. Perhaps the most moving moment is with “Youngstown,” the story of a lost steel mill town.

The song’s protagonist, a mill worker, sees his life slipping through his hands, the company he once slaved for, working the furnaces, tossing aside loyalty in favor of  profit. He struggles against fate, the song’s true ending unexpressed. Some may question Springsteen’s ability to relate to this subject matter, a self-made millionaire years separated from his hungry days. Springsteen’s talent has always been in the telling, however, and the impact that these stories have on the listener is equal to the force that the disturbing truth has had on the writer. These are heartfelt songs, masterfully rendered and every bit as sincere and real as any street poet or rapper.

The Rev’s Bottom Line

Springsteen is shunned by a young audience as irrelevant, an artist of their parent’s generation that has little to say to them. They’ve latched onto sad clowns like Marilyn Manson, Smashing Pumpkins, or Nine Inch Nails, popular and entertaining performers who nonetheless don’t possess a wisp of Springsteen’s talent and ability. The angst of the younger generation may be appealing, generating brief careers and a few oddly interesting creative moments; Springsteen’s talent as a artistic mirror reflecting society has been unmatched since Dylan’s early days and is every bit as vital and necessary today as it ever has been. (Columbia Records, released November 21st, 1995)

Review originally published by R.A.D! music zine, Spring 1996

Buy the CD on Amazon: Bruce Springsteen’s The Ghost of Tom Joad

Friday, January 21, 2022

Archive Review: Dan Baird's Buffalo Nickel (1996)

As the frontman for the Georgia Satellites, Dan Baird experienced his small share of success. The band’s three collections of 1970s-styled, stripped-down, primal rock ‘n’ roll yielded a handful of minor hits and an unqualified classic in “Keep Your Hands To Yourself.” It was Baird’s first solo disc, however, 1992’s impressive Love Songs For the Hearing Impaired, on which his songwriting talents truly blossomed, his skills as a guitarist also showcased by a fine collection of tunes.

Almost four years have passed since that initial effort, during which time Baird played on and produced a fine album by Nashville’s Ken McMahan and toured with fellow Southern rocker Terry Anderson and former Del Lord Eric Ambel in a loose-knit but highly-rocking entourage called the Yahoos. Somewhere in between, Baird found time to pen the songs that make up Buffalo Nickel, a near-classic of Southern rock that bridges the gap between where country music has been and where rock music is going.

Dan Baird’s Buffalo Nickel

With help from producer Brendan O’Brien (who also contributes a fair amount of instrumental talent, as well), Nashville bassist extraordinnaire Keith Christopher, and former Satellites bandmate Mauro Megellan on drums, Baird’s Buffalo Nickel is a hot, sticky slab of Southern-fried funk with a side of sizzling guitar rock. Baird has never been shy about his preference of musical styling, drawing heavily from the well of ‘70s-era guitar rock with just enough Hank-inspired country twang thrown in to reveal the work’s Southern origin; judged in this light, Buffalo Nickel certainly doesn’t stray far from its roots.
Unlike the blues-infused rock of Joe Grushecky, or even Springsteen’s earlier material, Baird’s creative output reflects the working class nature of his predominantly Southern audience. This is rock ‘n’ roll for folks that show red necks beneath their blue collars, the same sort of listeners that once championed bands like Lynyrd Skynyrd and Molly Hatchet. Unlike those artists, however, Baird shows more British influence (i.e. the early classic rock of the Stones and the Faces) alongside the spirits of Hank Williams and Ernest Tubb. This audience wants its rock loud, electric and with no sign of the intellectual pretension or dedication to fashion shown by many trend-oriented bands.  

Baird doesn’t disappoint. The cuts on Buffalo Nickel are solid rockers, from the rockabilly-touched “Little Bit” to a raucous, inspired cover of Joe South’s “Hush” (with vocal assistance from South himself) or the syncopated rhythms and buried vocals of “Hit Me Like A Train.” The funky riffs shown on “Cumberland River” are part of a long-standing Southern musical tradition, belying the song’s lyrical criticism of Nashville as “an empty promise, soulless and hard as stone.” The irony of Baird’s use of this particular musical style underlining a poetic damnation of a “Music City” that often turns its back on tradition is not lost on this Nashville-based critic. “Hell To Pay” is a good ol’ Dixie-styled tale of retribution that utilizes the imagery of fire and brimstone to smite critics and enemies, while “Trivial As the Truth” – which would make a great radio cut if every “progressive” station wasn’t too busy playing Nirvana and Pearl Jam every hour – is a great lyrical “piss off” to everyone trying to hold the spirit of rock ‘n’ roll down.   

The Reverend’s Bottom Line

Baird’s work continues to improve with Buffalo Nickel. Age and experience, in this case, do equal a certain hard-won wisdom, and even if Baird continues to work in as untrendy a milieu as he does, there’s nobody better at cranking out tunes like these. He may never again sell a million records or receive anything close to significant airplay, but he can make a living with work as good as this, and have a hell of a lot of fun along the way. (American Recordings, released 1996)

Review originally published by R.A.D! music zine, Spring 1996

Also on That Devil Music:

Dan Baird’s Love Songs For the Hearing Impaired CD review
The Yahoos’ Fear Not the Obvious CD review

Buy the CD from Amazon: Dan Baird’s Buffalo Nickel

Archive Review: Mark Germino's Rank & File (1996)

Mark Germino's Rank & File
In a city like Nashville, filled with mostly mediocre songwriters churning out tunes for Music Row’s country music machine, it’s always a breath of fresh air to hear Mark Germino. One of the city’s greatest underrated and overlooked talents, Germino stands tall alongside wordsmiths like Steve Forbert, Bill Lloyd, and Steve Earle who don’t quite fit into the system, square pegs  in a round hole world who are creating some of the best music that you’ll ever hear. Case in point: Rank & File, Germino’s wonderful acoustic collection from late ‘95.

Mark Germino’s Rank & File

Germino is a story-teller, more in the vein of a Dylan, perhaps, than either Bruce Springsteen or Joe Grushecky, although he brings to his work more country, rather than folk, influences. Germino is working class all the way, a self-described “politically incorrect, liberal redneck.” With an artist’s soul and a wanderer’s experience, with more angry attitude and self-righteous frustration than any punk rocker could ever muster, Germino breaths life and energy all of its own into every song that he puts to music and sings.

From the self-crucifixion of the artist in “Poet’s Lament” (“Well the poet laid his pencil down/excused himself and took/A loaded pistol in his hand/and shot himself in the foot”) to the not-so-subtle social commentary of “Field’s of Man’s New Order” (“I don’t like your tabloids, I don’t like your networks/they manipulate me while keeping me informed/your misuse of headlines, your sad propaganda/I hate your self interest as sure as you’re born”), Germino has an eye for the small details that effect our lives, and the superb ability to relate them in stories that will touch us.

With “Fire In the Land of Grace,” a fanciful retelling of the singer’s visit to Graceland, Germino takes back the spirit of rock ‘n’ roll and delivers Elvis from purgatory, while “Rosemary’s New Constitution” is a call to arms for the average man, a fantastic outline of a utopian nation: “And all the blacks own the food and the whites own the fuel/and the natives own the land so they’re covered/the rich own the schools, the poor own the banks/so we’re all forced to deal with each other.” Germino’s songs often express radical ideas, related simply through song without the bombast and bullshit that often accompany public discourse.

Rex Bob Lowenstein

Even for a songwriter as masterful as Germino, he sometimes outdoes even his best work. “Felix Tucker’s Biggest Lie” is one such moment, a classic story of “an honest man from the hills of East Tennessee” that evokes the spirit of an innocence long passed, a tale of  morality that showcases man’s constant philosophical struggle with what’s right and what’s wrong. The song’s chorus, the delightfully paradoxical “And he was and he is and he will be, he’s been honest since he was a kid/but the biggest lie that he ever told is the most honest thing that he ever did” perfectly frames the verses (and the moral) sung in between. Delivered in a Delta-influenced, talking blues style, “Felix Tucker’s Biggest Lie” is a perfect example of art at its best, entertaining and thought-provoking. To go into too much detail would weaken the song’s strength; you’ll just have to check it out on your own.

Rank & File’s other transcendent moment is in the story of “Rex Bob Lowenstein,” retold from Germino’s electric album Radartown. The song’s protagonist, a mythical deejay at radio station W.A.N.T. is the music lover in all of us, playing a loose format of songs: “You can call and request Lay Lady Lay/he’ll play Stanley Jordan, U2 and Little Feat/he’ll even play the band from the college down the street.” Rex Bob is a champion for music in all of its diversity, a friend on the box that will play your tunes and keep you company (a purpose that radio serves for many late-shift and all-night workers who fight fatigue with the songs sent out across the airwaves).

The station, of course, changes formats and Rex Bob, like many of the talents of his generation, is sent out to pasture (albeit not quietly). The song is less about what we’ve gained by technological advances in entertainment (equipment, formats, delivery systems) and more about what we’ve lost by placing profit before pride and personality. At once both tragic and triumphant, “Rex Bob Lowenstein” may well be the most fervent damnation of corporate domination in the entertainment world that will ever be written.

The Reverend’s Bottom Line

Germino collected a fine group of musicians to play on Rank & File. Veteran Mac Gayden, a talented songwriter in his own right, offers his multi-instrumental skills, while bassist Tom Comet played previously with Germino on Radartown. Drummer Pat McInerny keeps the entire affair solid, while keyboardist Michael Webb’s contributions are subtle, though necessary. They’ve together created a soundtrack that is sparse and minimalist, perfectly echoing the spirit and nature of these songs. Like those artists mentioned alongside him in this piece, Germino offers music direct from his heart, allowing the songs to speak for him, and, by extension, for us, as well... (Winter Harvest, released 1995)
Review originally published by R.A.D! music zine, Spring 1996

Buy the CD from Amazon: Mark Germino’s Rank & File

Friday, January 14, 2022

Archive Review: Gary Moore’s Live At Montreux 2010 (2011)

Gary Moore’s Live At Montreux 2010
A restless soul, seemingly from day one, the late guitarist Gary Moore was never satisfied with pursuing a single style of music. While his roots were in the blues, and his first band of note – the original Skid Row – was firmly a part of England’s thriving late ‘60s blues-rock scene, Moore jumped from bands and styles as easily as changing shirts, playing with Thin Lizzy (hard rock), Colosseum II (jazz-rock fusion), and Dr. Strangely Strange (folk-rock), among others. As a solo artist, Moore excelled at the blues, hard rock, and heavy metal while, as a hired gun in the studio, he recorded with artists as diverse as Greg Lake and Keith Emerson (ELP), the Beatles’ George Harrison, the Beach Boys, and even bluesman Otis Taylor.

Moore was at his best as a live performer, and he has a half-dozen live discs in his catalog. He was as close to a regular at the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland as an artist could be, first appearing at the famed event in 1990 and returning for performances six or seven times subsequently. Sadly, the guitarist’s July 2010 performance at the festival would be his last, albeit one of his best. Reuniting with estranged former bandmate Neil Carter (UFO, Wild Horses), Moore put together a new band to tour the summer of 2010, leaving much of his blues-oriented material of recent years behind in favor of a hard-rocking bit of nostalgia for material from his mid-‘80s albums recorded with Carter. Moore’s Live At Montreux 2010 is the last recorded work from the legendary guitarist, and a perfect showcase for his multi-faceted talents as a singer, guitarist, and songwriter.

Gary Moore’s Live At Montreux 2010

Starting with a thundering drumbeat, Moore asks the crowd, “are you ready?” before launching into the lightning-strike intro to his classic Celtic-rock gem “Over the Hills And Far Away.” A U.K. hit from his 1987 Wild Frontiers album, the performance here takes on an eerie, ethereal feel with Moore’s elegant fretwork dancing atop the band’s crashing instrumentation. Moore’s recurring riff hits hard, his solos cut to the bone, the band chimes in with gang-fight harmonies, and the song’s wistful, poetic lyricism is a testament to Moore’s often-overlooked, anthemic songwriting skills.

Another mid-‘80s U.K. hit, “Military Man,” was originally performed by Moore’s friend and former bandmate, Thin Lizzy’s Phil Lynott. Taken from 1985’s Run For Cover album, the song’s anti-war screed is bolstered by a martial rhythm, screaming guitars, and explosive bass and drums before it breaks down into an obviously Lynott-styled soulful vocal break, which itself is accompanied by a beautiful, winsome Moore solo. The Top Five hit “Out In the Fields,” from the same album, was a Lynott/Moore duet; here it’s performed more forcefully than the original, with rapidly-paced rhythms, vocal harmonies almost buried beneath the instrumentation, and taut fretwork that walks a fine line between hard rock and heavy metal in style and fury.

Back To The Blues

Moore’s 2010 Montreux performance wasn’t totally devoid of the guitarist’s blues influence. The mid-tempo ballad “Where Are You Now” displays a certain bluesy hue in both Moore’s somber, melancholy vocals and in some of his rattling guitar phrases. Moore’s pastiche of the instrumental “So Far Away” with his own “Empty Rooms” is another example; the former cleverly mixes jazzy licks and a blues undercurrent with a rock ‘n’ roll heartbeat while the latter blends blues and rock guitar beneath Moore’s mournful vocals. An inspired cover of Jimmy Rogers’ Chicago blues classic “Walking By Myself” is pumped up on steroids, rocking full-tilt with swinging rhythms and Moore’s fluid guitarplay layered in behind his playful, joyous vocal performance.   

Live At Montreux 2010 includes the performance of three new songs that Moore had written for what was going to be a Celtic rock-styled album that would be interrupted by his tragic death. “Oh Wild One” is the best of these, a rollicking, raging ode to a friend (Lynott?) that displays some of Moore’s most powerful, albeit nuanced fretwork. The song is a cross between Thin Lizzy and the Pogues, and is Irish to the bone. “Days of Heroes,” another new song, is Moore’s take on early Lizzy, an anthemic toast to days gone by with Celtic-flavored twin guitars, a larger-than-life soundtrack, Moore’s passionate vocals, and a monster solo that takes the guitarist around the world, from Ireland to the U.K. to American blues, and back to the Emerald Isle. The album closes with another Lynott co-write, the hauntingly beautiful “Parisienne Walkways,” wherein Moore reveals his Peter Green influences with a tearful ballad that showcases both the guitarist’s softer, bluesy side and his heavy metal shred.

The Reverend’s Bottom Line

Truth is, there’s but a scattering of blues to be found on Live At Montreux 2010, mostly in the grooves of a handful of songs, and all over the wonderful “Walking By Myself” cover. But that eclecticism is a large part of Moore’s appeal to his fans…much like his contemporary Jeff Beck, one never knew where Moore’s muse would take him.

Fans of Moore’s edgy blues-rock albums like Scars or Bad For You Baby might be disappointed by this one, while those of us who appreciate Moore in whatever milieu he chose at the time of recording will delight in Live At Montreux 2010 as not only a document of a stunning performance, but a fitting and proper swansong for the artist as well. (Eagle Records, released September 20, 2011)

Also on That Devil Music: Gary Moore’s Blues For Jimi album review

Buy the CD from Gary Moore’s Live At Montreux 2010

Friday, January 7, 2022

Archive Review: Th’ Legendary Shack*Shakers’ Swampblood (2007)

Th’ Legendary Shack*Shakers’ Swampblood
It’s been said by some that if drive down Highway 100, south outta Nashville and through the sleepy little burg of Fairview, you’ll find an old dirt road at the Hickman County line. You follow this road back through the woods ‘til you find the gnarled tree where the strange chickens roost all day and night. From there, you take the gravel trail on the right, go down the hollow past Lady Sniff’s shack (pay no attention to the sirens’ wail that you’ll hear coming from behind those walls) to arrive at the crossroads. Pick the right fork, and it’ll take you down through the knotty kudzu gateway to the edge of the ole swamp…

Th’ Legendary Shack*Shakers’ Swampblood

Now, you have to be careful when going down there, ‘cause much like Rudderville or Kingfield, folks ‘round these parts get a might touchy if they don’t know you. If you’re drivin’ too nice or too new of a car, the ‘shiners might toss a few rounds your way thinkin’ that you’re a Revenue agent or some other sort of Federale. Tales say that the swamp is haunted by the ghosts of several Delta bluesmen that gave up thriving careers and settled down right here, working as farmhands in the nearby tobacco fields. On Saturday nights, they’d get together with cigar-box guitars and harmonicas and they’d sing. Somebody would drag some sort of scaly critter out of the swamp and cook it up for dinner, washing down the dubious feast with some clear, vicious, foul-tasting liquor.  

If you have a mind to venture out into that neck o’ the woods, I’d suggest that you first make sure that you’re driving the right kind of car…nothing too flash or too Hollywood, and certainly nothing made by the flan-factories of Detroit after 1980. Maybe some sort of early-70s Mopar, like a Charger or Satellite, preferably one with a few well-earned rust holes, missing chrome and a dirty old sock stuffed in the gas nozzle. Nobody down around the swamp will look at you twice, especially if you’re rattlin’ Swampblood, the latest-and-greatest from th’ Legendary Shack*Shakers, out of your vintage quad sound-system. With the Col. J.D. Wilkes as your co-pilot across these perilous killing fields, you’re assured of getting back home alive and kickin’.

Feedback-whipped howls and nancy banjo-pickin’ comprise the brief instrumental “Dawn,” sounding right at home surrounded by hanging vines and cypress trees. It’s the perfect-fit intro to “Old Spur Line,” Swampblood’s kick-off tune and as nasty a slice o’ greasy redneck funk as you’re likely to hear these days. The Colonel’s vocals are slightly echoed in the mix as he spits out this cautionary tale of traveling into places that you shouldn’t oughta. The band shuffles along, a minor thunderstorm behind Wilkes’ haunting vocals. “Hellwater” begins with an authentic Tony Joe White guitar lick, David Lee channeling the spirit of John Campbell as he picks out a familiar poke-salad riff and Wilkes belts out a song about the wages of sin.

Appalachian Hillbilly Hoedown

Properly warmed up by this time, the Colonel and his instrumental army take Swampblood up a notch; “Easter Flesh” sounds vaguely Middle Eastern in flavor, with circular riffs and martial rhythms, Wilkes’ up-tempo vocals bringing some sort of nasty Biblical judgment to the poor unfortunate souls who resist salvation. The title cut takes us further into the murky water than we’ve ever been before, the song a raucous, compelling number with manic harp work and fire-and-brimstone lyrics sung in a possessed voice. Lee’s trebly fretwork fuels the song’s instrumentation, a rhythmic assault that is as dense as the morning fog on the bayou.

From this point, Swampblood descends further into alcohol-fueled madness, each performance proudly wearing the sweat and fervor of a backwoods preacher as the Colonel puts his boys through their paces. “Cheat the Hangman” is like a runaway freighter jumping the tracks and diving headfirst into a muddy river while “Born Again Again” is an old-timey spiritual with a jug-band soul and a church-pew heart. “The Deadenin’” proves that it’s not nice to fool with Mother Nature, the song an environmental anthem that has Wilkes’ howlin’ at the moon while the band kicks out a wily, smoke-tinted and disturbing soundtrack behind the Colonel’s gnashin’-and-wailin’ vocals.

There are several more gems hidden in Swampblood’s grooves that will tickle your imagination, like “Jimblyleg Man,” an Appalachian hillbilly hoedown with spry fiddle playin’ and plenty o’ words about some sort of wicked sprite, an imaginary evil like the chupacabra down in south Texas or West Virginia’s mothman. “He Ain’t Right” is a rockabilly rave-up that reminds one of Hasil Adkins. “Angel Lust” has a jazzbo sound that kicks your ears like Professor Longhair jammin’ with Cab Calloway while Brett Whitacre’s tribal drumbeats and tasteful fills play along nicely with Mark Robertson’s muscular upright bass as Wilkes’ swinging vocals take up any remaining slack. Whitacre adds the accompanying patterns behind the Colonel’s mighty potent stream-of-consciousness rant “Preachin’ At Traffic.” Swampblood finishes much like it started, with the somber crosspatch “When I Die” leading into the fading hill country banjo-maul that is “Bright Sunny South.”

The Reverend’s Bottom Line

Swampblood is th’ Legendary Shack*Shakers’ fifth studio album, and if the band never evolves into world-beaters, they’ll always deliver exactly what you’d expect them to: a combustible blend of roots-rock, honky-tonk country, electric blues and retro-rockabilly. Yeah, they may be a throwback to a simpler, highly-rocking time, and hopelessly out-of-step with today’s musical trends. But as the Colonel says, “I dream in sepia, mono and Beta” – as defiant a statement of Luddite fist-shaking as has been committed to tape. I wouldn’t expect th’ Legendary Shack*Shakers to headline the Pitchfork Festival, but if I ran into them at a cockfight, I’d buy ‘em a mason jar of whatever they wanted to drink… (Yep Roc Records, released July 16th, 2007)

Review originally published by the Cashville411 website, 2007

Buy the CD from Th’ Legendary Shack*Shakers’ Swampblood