Lately everything with cool graphics and promisingly funny song
titles has burned me both ways like bad chorizo. Be assured that
With Or Without Me delivers far more hilarity and style
than required by law. A lot of Toms are represented on this album,
and we're not talking drums. Although the cover looks like a classic
Tom Jones, the songs are more tributes to Toms-
T. Hall & Waits. If he'da rolled the Toms together,
he'd end up with Jerry Jeff Walker. And if you rolled up
Homer and Jethro, I guess you'd get Tom Heinl.
Twangless Tom Heinl has a fantastic baritone to bass range, and
the arrangements are impeccable 60's Country that would make Conway
Twitty jealous. The steel guitar is authentic, the tinkling
piano echoes Floyd Kramer and the flourishes are completely
accurate. But all that is merely a setup for the astoundingly
brilliant, straight-faced sketches like "Three-Way,"
whose moral is "be careful what you wish for." Or maybe
the moral is "be specific." But probably it's just a
bunch of stuff that happened. "Pinto Squire" is a clever
barrelhouse take on automotive odes featuring swinging Hammond
organ. While "Trailer Fever" replaces the malady of
the cabin sort.
"IHOP" is a flattering reaction to Tom Waits' "Ghosts
Of Saturday Night." But with talk of "Blue booths like
a bread crumb trail to the can/and I stick my head in the toilet
and yak," this'll nary become the next Waffle
House Jukebox Favorite. If it weren't for the vulgar subject,
the scratchy "Peeing In An Empty" could easily be vintage
Tex Ritter Grand Ol' Opry material. As if the Tom T. Hall
connection weren't already apparent, Heinl's finest piece is a
twisted version of "I Love." It's difficult to pick
out a favorite line in this song, let alone the album, but try
out,"I love chickens without heads/the smell of old sheds/sleeping
in class/and ass/I love mailmen when they're mad/nuns when they're
bad/hippies when they're cops/and rolling stops." Sadly,
there's not the room to cover references to Haley Mills
and Lincoln Logs, so don't ask.
2. Pinto Suire
3. Trailer Fever
5. Peein' In An Empty
7. Christmas Tree on Fire
8. Half Day Vacation
9. Turned A Corner
10. I Love
All tracks repeat sans vocals for Stereoke
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