They say you canít shoot up alone. Thatís what happened to
Dee Dee, The Bird, and Lady Day. Actually,
they probably had company that cut out when they found out
how strong the rock was cut. But the problem with going to
a shooting gallery is that you inevitably end up next to some
golden arm who wants to talk your ear off about how he just
wrote the other 600 stanzas of Kubla Khan when what
you really want during your nod is the disturbing soundtrack
The Blackout to entertain your dark humor and dastardly
thoughts. Itís a walk through a thin-walled derelict hotel
picking up snippets of stories that you have to piece together.
The disjointed ramblings will quickly become conversational
in-jokes between you and your supplier. This disc is unique
unto itself, but pieces of it warrant comparison. So bear
with me while I bear witness.
The beat poetry parody of "3/4 Man" is laid across
a dark opium dream that starts mid-sentence. Burroughs
and Beck are equally represented in the space-lounge
styling of this narcotic tale. "Hanky Joe Digger"
is a delta blues number as done by The Birthday Party.
When old-time religion meets Old Crow, this is what rolls
off the revivalistís forehead in toxic flammable droplets.
An all out garage R&B call to "Do The Blackout"
forces a comparison to The Stooges, which is carried
over to "Wanna Scratch It?" A beat like a dripping
faucet and remnants of overheard conversations sound like
they were compiled by Mark E. Smith hisself. "Pimp
Hand Strong" borrows some Stones posturing, while
the intoxicated "Asphalt Blues" shares their fascination
with Puerto Rican girls. The paranoid rockabilly on "Bee
In Flight" is a spooky Cramps throwback.
A bumper-sticker preacher on "The Diddler" testifies,
The moon begins to rise/All yellow and fat/Like a Flannery
OíConnor moon/I can see it with my one bloodshot eye. The
deep drums keep it lively like a creepy Dillards backwoods
jamboree. Thereís no doubt that "Blackjack" was
inspired by Colorblind James Experience. The country
swing is for the sake of one very obvious joke. But as comedy
is all in the delivery, the payoff is worth it even though
you saw it coming. Tom Waitsí schtick runs through
the torch song "Cash Cow." You have to listen close,
or you might take the slow jazz serious. "The Termite"
throws the whole record for a loop with its club-funk. I expected
the B3 Hammond eventually, but I can do without this song.
Perhaps itís a reference point so we know the act is tongue-in-cheek.
The deconstruction "Nine Eleven" bridges the gap
between Revolution #9 and The Fall. Whatever
the true "Jack Martin Story" is, their version boasts
a Long Cool Woman barhouse feel and the great dangling
line, I hear you go to bat for the pink team/No, I just
likes to hugs people.
These guys are self-assured with their style selection and
they can set a fine mood. The hilarious lines they spread
around make you forget to notice the stellar playing. They
could have played it straight and made a real nice retro record,
but they had their sights set much higher. I guess itís like
that Ween country record except creepier, funnier and
with better musicianship. And I guess some Jon Spencer
cat helps out for a minute.
On a scale of brand-name junk: If one is Gold Bond Powder,
and ten is Cold Swan; The Blackout scores an eight:
ó Ewan Wadharmi
- ĺ Man
- Hanky Joe Digger
- Do The Blackout
- Wanna Scratch It?
- Pimp Hand Strong
- Bee In Flight
- Asphalt Blues
- The Diddler
- Barettaís My Handle
- Cash Cow
- The Termite
- Nine Eleven
- Jack Martin Story
- Cash Cow (Reprise)
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