Planning to listen to this record? Go buy some bourbon. You’ll need it.
Listening to Th’ Legendary Shack Shakers feels like swillin’ liquor in a Kentucky barn which, if you’re very lucky, you aren’t sharing with the hogs.
I would apologise for my rampant stereotyping, but just look at the lyrics: “In a cockfight club behind the county dump / Chicken wire mesh and the egg carton struts”. “Way down south in a Cain-Truck town where all of the stubble fields grow.”
Formed in the mid-nineties, Th’ Legendary Shack Shakers are old hands at the country blues sound. But why keep it simple when you could make it weird? The band are the first to admit their gothic and punk influnce, having toured with The Damned and Rancid. Guitarist Duane Denison of noise rock outfit the Jesus Lizard played a stint with the band. More than a few tracks are about murder most vile, and horror author Stephen King counts among their fanbase.
Tom Waits would prick his ears up at tracks like ‘Help Me From My Brain’, with its strains of accordion and garbled lyrics. ‘Shakerag Holler’, bizarre with its boinging jaw harp, suddenly breaks out into a startlingly heavy bridge, before leaving as quickly as it came.
‘Clodhopper’ stops just short of actually yelling “Yeeeeeehaw!” – but only just. And their version of William Harris’s blues standard, ‘Bullfrog Blues’, has a more than a hint of ska about it.
Cockadoodledon’t was originally released on CD in 2003, the band’s first major album, and its vinyl release comes with their twentieth anniversary. Their next full-length album, The Southern Surreal, is slated for release this autumn. The album art looks like the last thing you see before your face starts appearing on milk cartons.
Easy on the whiskey now, or you’ll be seeing shapes in the dark.
Photo: Carl Byron Batson. Not to be reproduced without express prior permission.