Sunday, September 17, 2017


Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017
KSFR, Santa Fe, NM
10 p.m. to midnight Sundays Mountain Time
Host: Steve Terrell 101.1 FM
Email me during the show! terrel(at)

Here's my playlist :

OPENING THEME: Let It Out (Let it All Hang Out) by The Hombres
Cheap Beer by Fidlar
Going South by Dead Moon
Livin' With Mum and Dad by Pussycat & The Dirty Johnsons
This Strange Effect by The Kinks
Demox by The Blind Shake
In Your Hands by Phil Hayes & The Trees
Keep a Knockin' by Jerry J. Nixon
Kickin' Child by Dion
Bad Betty by The Sonics
Betty & Dupree by Sam the Sham & The Pharoahs

A Decision is Made by The Yawpers
Cadaver Dog by Thee Oh Sees
Come and Go by Travel in Space
You Should Never Have Opened That Door by Ty Segall
Black Eyes by Boss Hog
Slay Me by The Darts
Saddest Excuse by Blasting Fondas
Why I Cry by The Howlin' Max Messer Show
Incarceration Casserole by Barrence Whitfield & The Savages

Talking Main Event Magazine Blues by Mike Edison
(Don't Worry) If There's a Hell Below We're All Going to Go by Curtis Mayfield
I've Been Watching You (Move Your Sexy Body) by Parliament
Who Stole the Soul by Public Enemy
Bad Trip by Lee Fields
I Got Ants in My Pants by James Brown

Everybody Knows by Leonard Cohen
I'm Your Man by Nick Cave
There's a Rugged Road by Judee Sill
... a psychopath by Lisa Germano
Say We'll Meet Again by Lindsey Buckingham
CLOSING THEME: Over the Rainbow by Jerry Lee Lewis

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Friday, September 15, 2017


Friday, Sept. 15, 2017
KSFR, Santa Fe, NM
10 p.m. to midnight Fridays Mountain Time
Host: Steve Terrell 101.1 FM
Email me during the show! terrel(at)

Here's my playlist :

OPENING THEME: Buckaroo by Buck Owens
Bus Breakdown by Dale Watson & Ray Benson
It's Your Voodoo Working by Eilen Jewell
My Mother's Husband by Lonesome Bob
Spider, Snaker and Little Sun by Ray Wylie Hubbard
Poor Tired Hands by Boris McCutcheon
The Cross is Boss by Shinyribs
Steve Earle by Lydia Loveless
Dwight Yoakam by Sarah Shook & The Disarmers
The I'll Be Moving On by Mother Earth

The Losing Kind by Josephus & The George Jonestown Massacre
She's Way Up Thar by Hal O'Halloran's Hooligans
The Neon Lights by Stonewall Jackson
I've Got a Lot of Hiding to Do by James Hand
Pretty Girl by Miss Leslie
Truck Driver's Blues by Cliff Bruner
This Highway by Zephaniah Ohora

White Lightnin'  by The Waco Brothers
If Drinkin' Don't Kill Me / The Grand Tour by The Geraldine Fibbers
Ramblin' Man by Andre Williams & 2 Star Tabernacle
Window Up Above by The Blasters
Oh Lonesome Me by Anna Fermin
Golden Ring by Rex Hobart & Kelly Hogan
Say It's Not You by Keith Richards & George Jones

Tennessee Whiskey by Harry Dean Stanton
The Valley by The Whiskey Charmers
Lord I Hope This Day Is Good by Don Williams
Weighted Down by Skip Spence
Lonesome Whistle by Hank Williams
Midnight Train by David Rawlings
CLOSING THEME: Comin' Down by The Meat Puppets

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TERRELL'S TUNE-UP: Yawpin' All Over the World

A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican 
Sept. 15, 2017

It took a few weeks for Boy in a Well, the new album by The Yawpers, to grow on me. I’m not exactly sure why my appreciation was delayed. Perhaps I was trying to follow the weird storyline running through the song lyrics. (No, it’s not a rock opera, so relax, skeptics.)

Maybe I was unfairly trying to compare the songs here to other songs dealing witSh World War I (Homework assignment: Familiarize yourself with the work of Eric Bogle, writer of “And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda” and “The Green Fields of France”).

But after a few listens, grow it did, and I came to realize this rowdy little band from Denver has created one of the most rocking little albums of the year. And now I can’t get enough.

Here’s a thumbnail sketch of the plot from Boy in a Well. It deals with the illegitimate child of a French woman who makes a little whoopee with an American soldier on the day in 1918 that the warring nations signed the peace treaty that ended that senseless conflict. Shamed by her family, the mother drops the baby down a well shortly after giving birth. But the kid survives and his mom, who thinks he’s the second coming of Jesus (!), keeps dropping food down the well to sustain him. Finally he grows up and climbs out. What follows might be described as a series of Oedipal wrecks.

According to the Bloodshot Records promo material for the album, “The story-vision was initially conjured by lead singer Nate Cook, after a reckless combination of alcohol, half a bottle of Dramamine, and an early morning flight.” (It’s an old trick, but sometimes it works. Maybe that’s how Walt Whitman came up with the line that spawned the name of this band: “I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world.”)

But as I said above, this crazy plot is nearly impossible to cull from Cook’s vocals. I cheated and read a song-by-song description by Cook and Yawpers drummer Noah Shomberg on the website Consequence of Sound last month. There is also a graphic novel — we called ’em “comic books” when I was a lad — illustrated by Legendary Shack Shakers frontman Col. J.D. Wilkes. You can see a preview in Paste magazine:

But as interesting as this story turns out to be, it’s the music, not the words that seals the deal. With big sonic traces of Shack Shakers, The Gun Club, ZZ Top, and their own twisted take on rockabilly, The Yawpers rip through most these songs with an urgency that’s undeniable.

You hear it in the very first song, “Armistice Day,” where, after some portentous piano, the group comes in with a chugging rhythm that starts off relatively laid-back, though the drums and guitars steadily build in intensity until by the last verse, the band is wailing. The next song, “A Decision is Made,” is raw psychobilly freakout.

The next couple of tunes, “A Visitor Is Welcomed” and “Room With a View,” are slow and melodic. And thus comes one of my few qualms about this record. I can understand the need for a breather now and then, and the change of pace now and then can make an album feel richer. For instance, later in the album, there’s a number called “The Awe and the Anguish” that, for most of the song, is a raw acoustic blues before it turns into a thrashing stomper in the last verse. And that works. But the fact that these two mellow tunes, “Visitor” and “Room,” are right next to each other — and come so early in the track list — screws with the momentum of the album.

Fortunately the next track, “Mon Dieu,” is a wild ride. And so is the rest of the album. While there are a couple more slow songs (the gorgeous “God’s Mercy” and the final song, “Reunion”), Boy in a Well is an exhilarating blast of unabashed rock ’n’ roll. Yawpers, keep on yawpin’.

Check out Besides the album in various formats, you also can purchase Col. Wilkes’ graphic novel there.

Also recommended:

* Claw Machine Wizard by Left Lane Cruiser. Hey, I’m not the only guy in New Mexico who likes Left Lane Cruiser. Skinny Pete, an Albuquerque drug dealer, also digs them. At least LLC was playing in his car during a scene in the third season of Breaking Bad.

I bet Skinny Pete also would like the Indiana duo’s new one, released earlier this year. Frontman Freddy “Joe” Evans IV — who plays slide guitar and sings, is backed by drummer Pete Dio (no relation to Skinny Pete), who came on board a couple of years ago.

Like previous Cruiser albums, this record Aconsists mostly of good old basic stripped-down gutter blues. However, there are a couple of tracks that show hints of (gulp) variety. “Lay Down” features a reggae groove (think Bob Marley’s “Jamming”), while “Smoke Break,” which begins with a short drum solo, is an instrumental that showcases a jazzy organ by producer Jason Davis.

And on the final song, the slow-boiling, six-minute “Indigenous,” there might — I said might — be some kind of political message buried under the roaring sludge. Some of the only lyrics I can make out in the first verse are “The grand wizard raised a hand,” which implies some kind of Ku Klux Klan action. Later in the song, other lyrics I can sort of understand include, “Don’t we all, baby, have to lift each other up?” and later something about “hateful hypocrisy.” In the refrain, Evans sings, “Rise up, my friend.”

It ain’t Woody Guthrie, but it ain’t bad.

Cruise in the Left Lane at It’s got Spotify embeds for this and several other LLC albums on the Alive/Natural Sound label.

Video time!

Let's start with a  couple of live versions of songs from Boy in a Well.

And here is the title track for Claw Machine Wizard by Left Lane Cruiser

Thursday, September 14, 2017

THROWBACK THURSDAY: Rockin' the Possum

Just a couple of days ago, Sept. 12,  was the birthday of one of America's greatest country singers, George Jones. If he hadn't have died back in 2013, Jones would have been 86 years old this week.

A belated happy birthday, Mr. Jones!

I realized it was his birthday when scrolling through my Facebook feed and stumbled onto a great post on the
Bloodshot Records page.

"Like a real Possum, he keeps crawling up into our gutters and rummaging through our attic," the post said.  "We can't escape George Jones no matter how hard we try. Here's a playlist of Bloodshot artists covering songs written, recorded, and made famous by No Show Jones."

I immediately wished that I'd have thought of that first. Then I went to work coming up with a variation of the idea -- George Jones covers covered by various rockers who love him.

So let's have at it!

Here are The Geraldine Fibbers, a mid '90s band featuring singer Carla Bozulich, with live versions of not one but two Jones classics, "He Stopped Loving Her Today" and "The Grand Tour."

Dave Edmunds teamed up with The Stray Cats for "The Race is On."

The Blasters do a blues-soaked version of "Window Up Above"

And here's one of those wonderful Bloodshot bands, The Waco Brothers with "White Lightning"

Here is duet between Keith Richards & George Jones. For years, "Say It's Not You" has been a Santa Fe Opry favorite.

Possum himself could rock when he wanted. Here's a live version of Larry Williams' "Bony Maronie."

Finally, here is the Bloodshot Spotify list that inspired this post. Several of the songs are more associated with other artists like Hank Williams and Merle Haggard, but what the heck? (I've found it's best to have your Spotify already open before you start to play.)

Little Richard with Tammy & George.
I looked but I couldn't find any Little Richard covers of Jones songs

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

WACKY WEDNESDAY: Revenge of 70s Party Killers

Imagine the worst of 1970s pop music -- the wimpiest, the sappiest, the most self-indulgent Top 40 schmaltz of the Me Decade -- neatly compiled onto one loathsome but irresistible compact disc.

That was the case of a fiendishly perverse, but somehow subversive compilation on Rhino Records released just a couple of years before the end of the century: 70's Party Classics Killers

I couldn't resist reviewing Party Killers in my March 27, 1998 Terrell's Tune-up column, writing with both disgust and awe:

"The last time anyone put so many wretched songs ... into such a concentrated form had to be the Circle Jerks in their "Golden Shower of Hits" medley. In fact, a couple of the songs the Jerks covered, `You're Having My Baby' and `Afternoon Delight' are here in their insidious original forms.

"The result is a record far more evil than Marilyn Manson could ever come up with. You realize that by the time you hear the weird child's voice chirping `My name is Michael, I've got a nickel' in the chorus of Clint Holme's 'Playground of My Mind.' " 

Behold the track list for the compilation:

 1. "Tie A Yellow Ribbon Round The Ole Oak Tree" by Tony Orlando & Dawn
 2. "The Night Chicago Died" by Paper Lace
 3. "Billy, Don't Be A Hero" by Bo Donaldson & The Heywoods
 4. "(You're) Having My Baby" by Paul Anka
 5. "Playground In My Mind" by Clint Holmes
 6. "Feelings" by Morris Albert
 7. "Sometimes When We Touch" by Dan Hill
 8. "The Candy Man" by Sammy Davis, Jr.
 9. "Afternoon Delight" by The Starland Vocal Band
 10. "Torn Between Two Lovers" by Mary MacGregor
 11. "Escape (The Pina Colada Song)" by Rupert Holmes
 12. "Muskrat Love" by The Captain & Tennille

A good number of these artists were one-hit wonders. But what's frightening to realize is that three of these acts --  Tony Orlando & Dawn; The Starland Vocal Band and The Captain & Tennille -- all had their own tacky network TV variety shows in the 1970s,

I concluded in my review, "All in all, '70s Party Killers is so bad it's ... still bad. But sometimes bad is more fun than good."

But this douchie dozen does not represent all the achingly bad music of the '70s. The whole decade was overflowing with similarly awful pop hits. In fact, nearly 20 years have passed since Rhino unleased 70's Party Classics Killers. I believe it's time for Volume 2

So I'm going to suggest the first five tracks for this sinister sequel and I want you gentle readers to help chose the next five or six or seven tracks.

Please leave your nominees in the comments section (here or on my Facebook page), preferably with a YouTube link. Try not to repeat any that were on the original compilation. (See list above.)

Don't worry, there's probably no chance in Hell that Rhino Records or anyone else will pick up the idea. (But you never know.)

Here are my five nominees:

1 "Never Been to Me" by Charlene. (My daughter Molly gets the credit (or blame) for this one.

2 "Seasons in the Sun" sung by Terry Jacks, with lyrics by Rod McKeun. (It's also important, so very important, to hear Too Much Joy's version, which includes a McKeun verse that the evil Terry Jacks, as TMJ called him, omitted.)

3) "You Light Up My Life" by Debby Boone. Yep, that's Pat's daughter. This is the only song here with obvious religious overtones -- though Jesus tells me that He hates crappy music.

4) "Me and You and a Dog Named Boo" by Lobo. I love dogs. But this song makes me question those feelings.

5) "Sad Eyes" by Robert Johns. Poor Robert. He obviously was suffering from Bee Gees Disease. We shouldn't mock him.

So hit me with your worst shots and tell me what '70s dreck you'd include on 70's Party Classics Killers Vol. 2.

Sunday, September 10, 2017


Sunday, Sept. 10, 2017
KSFR, Santa Fe, NM
10 p.m. to midnight Sundays Mountain Time
Host: Steve Terrell 101.1 FM
Email me during the show! terrel(at)

Here's my playlist :

OPENING THEME: Let It Out (Let it All Hang Out) by The Hombres
Dopefiend Boogie by The Cramps
One Kind Favor by Canned Heat
Goin' Underground by The Molting Vultures
Preaching the Blues by The Gun Club
In Cahoots by The Howlin' Max Messer Show
Demona by Dead Moon
Backstreet Girl by Social Distortion
Big Cluckin' Mistake by MFC Chicken

Jettisoned by Thee Oh Sees
Throbbing Gristle by The Brian Jonestown Massacre
Moon by Travel in Space
The Last Cul de Sac by The Black Lips
Days and Days by Concrete Blonde
Beautiful Child by Camper Van Beethoven

Linen for the Orphan by The Yawpers
Still Rollin' by Left Lane Cruiser
Whistlebait Baby by Lovestruck
Pretty Baby (You're So Ugly) by Ty Segall
Sunday Routine by Boss Hog
White Jesus by Jon Spencer Blues Explosion
I Think I'm Going Down by Weird Omen
I Told You Once by Toad of The Short Forest
Throat Locust by TAD
No Class by Bitch Queens
Hey Cookie by The Dirtbombs

Love Gangsters by Gogol Bordello
Light as a Feather by Afghan Whigs
Part the Sea by Mission of Burma
Mystery by Jon Langford's Four Lost Souls
The Cross by Prince
Hyper Real by Negativland
CLOSING THEME: Over the Rainbow by Jerry Lee Lewis

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Friday, September 08, 2017


Friday, Sept. 8, 2017
KSFR, Santa Fe, NM
10 p.m. to midnight Fridays Mountain Time
Host: Steve Terrell 101.1 FM
Email me during the show! terrel(at)

Here's my playlist :

OPENING THEME: Buckaroo by Buck Owens
Fiesta by The Pogues
Walkin' After Midnight by Cyndi Lauper
Old Wolf by Ray Wylie Hubbard
Cry Cry Cry by Sally Timms
Ain't No Sure Thing by Bobby Bare
Guacamole by Texas Tornados
The Firebreak Line by Steve Earle
Wasted Days and Wasted Nights / Volver Volver by Billy Bacon & The Forbidden Pigs

Florida by War and Treaty
Po' Howard by Ben Hunter & Joe Seamons with Phil Wiggins
Skilly Bom II by The Imperial Rooster
Big Zombie Chivalrous Amoekons
Tiger by The Tail by The Waco Brothers
Busy City by Rhonda Vincent
Will I Ever Feel Fine by Tommy Miles & The Milestones
Match Made in Heaven by Jesse Dayton
Mysterious Mose by R. Crumb & His Cheap Suit Serenaders

R.I.P. Don Williams (all songs by DW, unless otherwise noted)
I Believe in You
Tulsa Time by Jimmy LaFave
Good Old Boys Like Me
Amanda by Waylon Jennings
If I Needed You by Emmylou Harris & Don Williams
Time by Pozo Seco Singers
Country Boy by The Band

My Magdalene by Hazeldine
Mississippi by The Cactus Blossoms
Death Row by Chris Stapleton
Dying Breed by Lonesome Bob
CLOSING THEME: Comin' Down by The Meat Puppets

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Steve Terrell is proud to report to the monthly Freeform American Roots Radio list

Thursday, September 07, 2017

THROWBACK THURSDAY: The Great 78 Project

From 1898 up through the 1950s, the 78 rpm record, usually made from shellac (beetle resin) was the major medium of recorded music. A big chunk of the artists you see featured on "Throwback Thursday" -- all those great blues, hillbilly and jazz artists of the '20s, '30s and '40s -- started out on 78s

Supposedly there were more than 3 million sides produced during the 78 era. But while the most famous and most commercially successful of those have been preserved onto modern formats, there are countless obscure old 78s out there that are in danger of being lost. After those old shellac artifacts are known to shatter in your hands without warning,

Luckily there's an effort by The Internet Archive, the George Blood LP company and the Archive of Contemporary Music to save these musical treasures.
A George Blood turntable used for 78 rpm digitization of
four simultaneous recordings with different needles. Fancy!

The Great 78 Project is a community project for the preservation, research and discovery of 78 rpm records. ... Already, over 20 collections have been selected by the Internet Archive for physical and digital preservation and access. 

... There’s no way to predict if the digital versions of these 78s will outlast the physical items, so we are preserving both to ensure the survival of these cultural materials for future generations to study and enjoy. 

And already there is plenty to enjoy. At this writing there are 30,495 songs on the project's Internet Archive home.

I'm going to post a few but I recommend you check it out yourself and get lost in the sounds of yesteryear.

Here's a little 1936 craziness from Hal O'Halloran's Hooligans: "She's Way Up Thar."

Here's one called "Jungle Boogie." No, it's not Kool & The Gang, it's The Bobby True Trio from 1948.

Country music star Roy Acuff is part of the Great 78 collection. Here's "A Sinner's Death" from 1947.

Here's a highfalutin, rootin' tootin' version of  "Ragtime Cowboy Joe" by Dick Jurgins & His Orchestra (1941).

This is a 1927 record called "Hawaiian Dreams" by The Hilo Hawaiian Orchestra.

And here is Julia Lee & Her Boyfriends singing "Gotta Gimme Whatcha Got" from 1947

Follow The Great 78 Project on Twitter

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

WACKY WEDNESDAY: Songs for Fatty

Ninety-six years ago this week, Sept. 5, 1921, an aspiring actress named Virginia Rappe suffered a ruptured bladder at a party in the St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco. She'd been in the company of one of the greatest comedians of the silent-movie era, Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle.

Rappe died on Sept. 9 at the age of 25. It was the end of her life. It also was the end of Arbuckle's career.

He was arrested on charges of manslaughter and booked without bail.

According to a 2011 piece by Gilbert King for

The Hearst papers had a field day with the story—the publisher would later say the Fatty Arbuckle scandal sold more papers than the sinking of the Lusitania. While sexually assaulting Virginia Rappe, the papers surmised, the 266-pound star had ruptured her bladder; the San Francisco Examiner ran an editorial cartoon titled “They Walked Into His Parlor,” featuring Arbuckle in the middle of a giant spider web with two liquor bottles at hand and seven women caught in the web. Rumors that he had committed sexual depravities began to swirl.

The rumors were nasty. Some assumed he crushed her with his weight during an attempted rape. Some claimed Arbuckle penetrated Rappe with an empty bottle.

Basically everyone in the country assumed Arbuckle was a big fat perv who attacked this poor girl.

But not everyone believed it. Arbuckle went to trial for Rappe's death three times. The first two trials ended in hung juries. In the last one, the jury voted to acquit the comic, taking the rare step of sending him a note of apology.

Acquittal is not enough for Roscoe Arbuckle. We feel that a great injustice has been done to him … there was not the slightest proof adduced to connect him in any way with the commission of a crime. He was manly throughout the case and told a straightforward story which we all believe. We wish him success and hope that the American people will take the judgment of fourteen men and women that Roscoe Arbuckle is entirely innocent and free from all blame. 

According to The Smithsonian article:

Arbuckle’s lawyers introduced medical evidence showing that Rappe had had a chronic bladder condition, and her autopsy concluded that there “were no marks of violence on the body, no signs that the girl had been attacked in any way.”

And the jury's hope that the public would take their judgement and realize Arbuckle was innocent didn't happen.

Arbuckle was banned from the movie industry for several months and basically considered box office poison. He worked behind the scenes as a director on some films under an assumed name. In 1933 he died of a heart attack.

Arbuckle's mug shot.
But one contemporary American jazzman did. Trumpet player Dave Douglas in 2005 released an album called Keystone, named for the Hollywood studio where Arbuckle filmed some of his greatest work (and yes, the namesake of The Keystone Cops.)

“Aside from liking the movies, one of the things that encouraged me to do this project was to vindicate Roscoe Arbuckle,” Douglas told Jazz Times. “I think that he really ought to be considered with Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin and Harold Lloyd as one of the masters of the genre."

Keystone is a two-disc set including a CD and a DVD, The CD that contains 11 music tracks Douglas composed for Arbuckle’s films. The DVD features Arbuckle’s 1915 film Fatty and Mabel Adrift, accompanied by Douglas’ score and a music video for  “Just Another Murder” that has footage from Arbuckle's 1915 film “Fatty’s Tin-Type Tangle.”

Here's "Just Another Murder."

But even after Keystone, Douglas continued playing around with music for Arbuckle's comedy shorts. This is "Moonshine" posted on Youtube by Douglas' Greenleaf label in 2008. It's the title track from his album released that year.

And here is a Keystone outtake called "Fatty's Plucky Pup."

Finally, here's Keystone in its entirety on Spotify

Monday, September 04, 2017

Musical Tribute to Twin Peaks

Last night the final two episodes of Twin Peaks: The Return aired on Showtime.

I miss it already.

And for those of you who miss it too, here is some Twin Peaks music to help ease the pain.

Let's start out with Special Agent Tammy Preston (in her guise as singer Chrysta Bell) singing "Sycamore Trees," written by Lynch and Angelo Badalamenti and originally sung by Little Jimmy Sott in The Black Lodge in the final episode of Season 2.

Here's the group Xiu Xiu, which recently recorded an entire album of Twin Peaks music, doing "Into the Night."

My favorite discovery among all the Roadhouse bands that played on The Return was The Cactus Brothers. These guys apparently worship The Everly Brothers -- and that's OK by me. I've been playing a lot of their songs in recent weeks on The Santa Fe Opry.

I also loved Rebekah Del Rio's Roadhouse song.

From the original series, James, Donna and Maddy sing "Just You." (James reprised this at The Roadhouse in The Return.)

But the singer most identified with Twin Peaks -- and rightly so -- is Julee Cruise. "The World Spins" is the song she sang in the Roadhouse (while Leland was busy killing Maddy back at the Palmer house) in the original series. She also sang it at the end of Part 17 last night. I believe this clip is from a Lynch/Badalamenti project called Industrial Symphony No. 1.

Miss ya, Bob

Sunday, September 03, 2017


Sunday, Sept. 3, 2017
KSFR, Santa Fe, NM
10 p.m. to midnight Sundays Mountain Time
Host: Steve Terrell 101.1 FM
Email me during the show! terrel(at)

Here's my playlist :

OPENING THEME: Let It Out (Let it All Hang Out) by The Hombres
Do You Love Me by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
Dishonest John by The Jim Jones Revue
Open Minds Now Close by The Brian Jonestown Massacre
Rimbaud Diddley by Churchwood
Sisters of The Moon by Fleetwood Mac
Timothy by The Buoys

Linen for the Orphan by The Yawpers
Cruel Friend by Nots
I'd Kill For Her by The Black Angels
Green and Mean by Travel in Space
Claw Machine Wizard by Left Lane Cruiser
Leadfoot Down by Leadfoor Tea
Got Blood in My Rhythm by The Blues Against Youth
Betty vs. The NYPD by Jon Spencer Blued Explosion
Break a Guitar by TY Segall
Little Girl by Syndicate of Sound

Keys to the Castle / Man in a Suitcase by Thee Oh Sees
Power Child by The Night Beats
Fruit Fly by Hickoids
Another Girl by Satan's Little Helpers
Rock Out by The Chuck Norris Experiment
I Can't Give You Anything But Love by Louis Prima & Keely Smith

Ooga Booga Rock by Hipbone Slim
Stranger in Me by The Howlin' Max Messer Show
I Got You on My Mind by The Vagoos
What's My Name by Jon Langford's Four Lost Souls
After You Die by Tom Waits
Sycamore Trees by Jimmy Scott
My Prayer by The Platters
The World Spins by Julee Cruise

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Friday, September 01, 2017

TERRELL'S TUNE-UP: The Imperial Rooster Rises Again

A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican 
Sept. 1, 2017

The Rooster crows once again! The pride of EspaƱola, that ragtag band of rounders, rowdies, and reprobates known as The Imperial Rooster is back with Volume 4 — their first full-length album since Cluckaphony four years ago.

The group has gone through a few personnel shuffles, but this record shows they’ve still got their basic chaotic, hillbilly-nuts, jug-band-riot sound full of banjos, kazoos, honking harmonicas, wild rhythms, drunken harmonies, and devilishly irreverent lyrics. In other words, it’s my kind of party.

The core of the Rooster still consists of Nat King Kong (Enrique Martinez) on vocals, harmonica, jug, and “hobophone” (a fancy kazoo-like device); Cootie Leroux (Rob Tomblinson) on vocals, guitar, and banjo; and Kohrn Sirrap (Randy Perraglio) on banjo, dobro, and guitar. The newest Roosters are Carlossus! The Count of Monte Carlos (Carlos Rodriguez) on bass and vocals and Perro De Mal (Luis Rodriguez, no relation to the Count) on drums.

The album is produced by none other than Joe Frankland, better known in underground-country circles as Slackeye Slim. Slackeye frequently played with The Rooster a couple of years ago when he was living in New Mexico. Now a Colorado resident, he also adds some lap steel, dobro, banjo, and saw on the Rooster’s tracks here. (Hey, Joe, it’s been at least a couple of years since your last album. You’re about due!)

The ImperialnRooster live at The Burger Stand 2016
The album starts off with “cluckaphonous” fanfare that almost reminds me of Beirut’s first album. But instead of trumpets, you hear kazoos, banjo, and Slackeye’s saw. That’s fitting because the song, titled “Dangerous Times,” is a faux Balkan stomp. The lyrics are a call to action against “thought police” who want to kick down your door. “We’re living in dangerous times,” the refrain goes.

Later in the album there’s a fast-paced song called “Wage Slave Revolt” — a fantasy of a revolution, burning down the mansions of the “greedy bastards” in a struggle to “protect our starving families and to take back all our land.” But the revolt doesn’t end well, as the greed-heads strike back with bomb-dropping drones. The minor-key melody sounds like some kind of centuries-old ballad that might have been sung by sentimental veterans of the Whiskey Rebellion or some other old thwarted uprising.

But speaking of whiskey, most of the songs on this album aren’t nearly as political as “Wage Slave Revolt” and “Dangerous Times.” In fact, most are geared toward good, goofy, drunken fun, with titles like “Hungover Again” (where the Roosters sing, “Nat King Kong started crackin’ jokes and we started cracking cans/Goddamn, I’m hungover again”) and “No One Likes Me” (The sad refrain: “I don’t know why nobody likes me/I swear I’m being cool, everyone wants to fight me”).

But the most powerful of the boozer tunes is “Prolly Die From Drankin’.” Nat King Kong describes the horrible liquor-soaked, liver-damaged fate of various family members, reminding me of “Dying Breed,” a stark and chilling song about a family’s substance abuse by Lonesome Bob (also recorded by Allison Moorer). However, The Imperial Rooster is employing dark humor here, turning the song into a grim joke. (“A six-pack leads to a 12-pack/And a 12-pack leads to I-don’t-know/And I-don’t-know leads to wakin’ up in a ditch.”) So you leave the song laughing, but fully aware of the pain beneath the punch lines.

Being that this is an Imperial Rooster album, there had to be a funny, bluesy devil song. After all, the very first song on their very first album, Old Good Poor Crazy Dead, was “Your Friends Think I’m the Devil,” while subsequent albums have had songs like “The Hoover Farm Exorcism” and “Anything Goes at a Rooster Show,” which talks about L. Ron Hubbard telling Satan about “inner light.” So on Volume 4, the devil gets his due on a hilarious dobro stomper called “Demons in Your Head,” which builds to a climax in which Cootie sings, “After a week when the bodies piled up I knew she had gone insane … I wish I’d never fell in love with that mama rattlesnake.”

The album ends with an acoustic waltz called “Old, Fat, and Stinky,” about a guy who matches that description. He also suffers from aching feet and impotence. He blames his wife, who lured him into a life of obesity with a ham sandwich (with chile and cheddar). Like “Prolly Die from Drankin’,” it’s funny, but funny with a bite.

You can hear and buy — don’t forget that part — Volume 4 and all Imperial Rooster music at their Bandcamp page.

Also recommended:

* A Black and Tan Ball by Joe Hunter & Joe Seamons with Phil Wiggins. No, this Seattle-based group is not as nutso as The Imperial Rooster, but fiddler Hunter and banjo man Seamons (joined here by harmonica player Wiggins) are the best string-band revival group this side of the South Memphis String Band (Alvin Youngblood Hart, Jimbo Mathus, and Luther Dickinson).

I knew I was going to like this album when I saw it starts off with “Do You Call That a Buddy,” a version clearly inspired by the one by Martin, Bogan, & Armstrong. It’s a funny little song about a guy plotting revenge on an ungrateful houseguest who eats all his food and tries to steal his woman.

Other highlights here are “Bad Man Ballad” (basically the murder song “Little Sadie”); a Louis Armstrong classic, “Struttin’ With Some Barbecue”; “Po’ Howard,” a tune from the Lead Belly songbook; and the jazzy “Do Nuthin’ Til You Hear From Me,” a Duke Ellington ballad that works just fine as an acoustic number.

Enjoy some videos:

Here is an early version of "Smilin' Ed" by The Imperial Rooster

An even earlier version of "Prolly Die from Drinkin'" (featuring original Rooster lineup)

HEre is Hunter, Seamons and Wiggins


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