Let It Slide - Mark Porkchop Holder (Alive Natural Sounds)
Hard to comprehend that this is Mark Porkchop Holder’s debut album. He’s a founding and former member of the blues-stomping raunch machine, Black Diamond Heavies, and that should tell you something straight away, even before you play a single track.
“Let It Slide” is roadhouse blues - no, not those “Roadhouse Blues” with the drunken clown out front singing about mute nostril agony. I mean the shit you might hear in little bars when you get off the interstate highways in Tennessee or Louisiana. Best served with a corn dog side dish, grits and catfish fried in possum sweat. As featured on "Man versus Food".
Enough digression. Holder’s soulful voice and sizzling slide guitar are right at the centre of these songs. Backed by a no-frills engine room blessed with cojones but tending to purr in all the right places rather than dominate, it’s a trip back to the shacks and share cropper farms of the Deep South - with a rock band plugged in at the end of the sitting room. Presumably powered by a three-phase generator.
He might look like the late Robert Quine after a few weeks grazing in a good paddock but Porkchop’s music is many swamps removed from what used to be the scuzzy sidewalks of the Lower East Side. He’s not so much immersed in the blues as willingly drowning in them.
“My Black Name” is the most straight-forward rocker and it’s heavily laced with Holder’s edgy slide. “Let It Slide” is good enough to be the opener and gets a reprise into the bargain. “38” is dominated by roughhouse harmonica and a boogie feel. There’s a sparse, steel guitar one too in “Stranger” (the obligatory change of pace) that ends up a little cliched but it does wear Holder’s vocal well.
You have to try hard to come up with a variation on “Stagger Lee” that people haven’t heard. Porkchop and Co turn it into a primal stomp, with a massive bottom end and nasty, jagged guitars arguing over a mournful blues harp and with Hendrix singing. Heavy and crude, as opposed to most of the rest of the record and a tour de force. A Murderous Ballad indeed.
And “Baby Please Don’t Go”? That’s a song that’s been over-done to the point where friendships can be sorely stretched but this version is better than tolerable. Good, even.
Get some pork on your fork. That’s all I got to say.