It's obvious that you're in the presence of greatness at a gig when a singer coaxes the entire crowd to limbo down lower than he. So it goes with Los Chicos, a mobile garage rock party ruled by a mixture of red wine and Coca Cola who've swung through Australia on a couple of occasions. Of course, gig greatness often does not translate to shiny silver CD or black platter. "In The Age Of Stupidity" is an exception to that rule.
Best known as front man and main man of the original purist '60s garage revivalists, Greg Prevost has always been one contrary mofo. If it wasn't enough to go all '1966' in the height of the immediate post-punk era (the Chesterfield Kings first started in '78), then going Dolls/Hollywood Brats-style glam just as 1966 was back in style – as the Chesterfield Kings did with their mighty 'Berlin Wall of Sound' album at the height of the garage revival in the late '80s – should tell you plenty about Greg's desire to go against the grain, even if that grain was the so-called alternative in the first place.
Citing influences from Motorhead to Nick Cave to Crazy Horse and carrying a warning in a covering note that their album "might be a bit on the soft side compared to other bands reviewed on your site" was enough of a contradiction to pique the interest. The fact that they hail from a coal mining town north of Sydney called Kurri Kurri (and nothing "soft" ever came out of Kurri Kurri) was another. So we gave this sucker a spin…
Pardon Me, I've Got Someone To Kill - T. Tex Edwards & Out On Parole (Saustex)/Against The Floor - T. Tex Edwards & The Swingin Kornflake Killers (Honey Records/Saustex)
T. Tex Edwards' prior convictions preceded the arrival of these discs in the I-94 Bar postbox, but he'd been someone we'd heard more about than we'd actually heard. Long-term Barfly Ken Shimamoto is a long-time fan so that alone would be cause to listen.
But first the backstory: As vocalist for quirky Texan punks the Nervebreakers, T. Tex opened for the Sex Pistols in Dallas on their ill-advised first US tour. If that wasn't enough glory to cover themselves in, he and the Nervebreakers went on to back two-headed dog owner and all-round legend, Roky Erickson, in one of his many post-Elevators configurations.
T. Tex moved between L.A. and Tejas in the '80s, working with the Loafin' Hyenas in California and T. Tex Edwards & Out On Parole when he was back in the Lone Star State. "Pardon Me, I've Got Someone To Kill" was the album that put T. Tex on the bigger musical map.
Sympathy For The Record Industry had the gumption to unleash this collection onto an unsuspecting world. It's a covers album of irreverent but mostly directly-rendered, obscure country songs about death French label New Rose followed Sympathy's lead and released it in Europe. It was long out-of-print, and this is a re-issue on a Texan label.
It's a completely subjective position but I think the best country music doesn't take itself seriously. Here in Australia, years of radio and TV bombardment fromy second-rate, locally-grown numbnuts whose ambition didn't go past apeing the passing peanut gallery (read: saccharine) monkeys of American mainstream charts made the C & W moniker the equal of the devalued Zimbabwe currency (in today's money.)
For our sins, we Australians still live with a bunch of vanilla, genetically-modified cardboard country cut-outs, celebrated in a lather at annual awards with most of them attuned to offshore mass-market success,. Way back in the '80s, many of us were growing up on a slew of inner-city wackos who did their level best to take revenge on the genre with their own skewed variant called Cow Punk.
It was the same in many other places so it's no shock that T. Tex Edwards' murder ballads record went down with legions of black-clad swamp and trash-country underground denizens like a soft bed and sleeping tablets after a two-day speed bender. In other words, this is a keeper.
The Beasts of Bourbon might have beaten them to "Psycho" by a good few years, but there's enough bittersweet twang in the version that T. Tex and On Parole committed to tape to hang a houseful of matricidal maniacs.
Musically, On Parole are/were a fine bunch of country players (hell yeah - the John X Reed on guitars used to play with Doug Sahm and drummer/song compiler Mike Buck was in the Fabulous Thunderbirds.) It's their playing and T. Tex's convincing vocal delivery, contrasted with the sheer ridiculousness and/or unhinged nature of the lyrics, that makes "Pardon Me" work so well. It sure beats singing death duets with Kylie, Mr Cave...
The title tune's a Johnny Paycheck number and while it might be fairly unsettling to know that he really meant it, the blue ribbon for being-off-the wall goes to "LSD Made a Wreck of Me." A soft spot is also (literally) reserved for "Rubber Room."
"Up Against The Floor" (2007) also wears threads cut from a country cloth but varies the wardrobe with the odd swampy rocker ("The Living And The Dead") and some oddball covers. If the credits hadn't told me David Bowie wrote the fuzz-and-scuzz tune (at least in these hands) "Black Country Rock", I wouldn't have been any the wiser.
Book-ended by a tasty instrumental, "Dirtweed", and an almost-instrumental, the rumbling Link Wray-styled "Bonus Track Baby", this is a varied but substantial work. You won't be bored over the course of 15 tracks.
If you're going to write a country song you may as well make it an anthem and "Ain't No Bars In Heaven" qualifies fer sure. Long live double-entendre. And as for odes to excess like "One Helluva Weekend", who sez American don't get irony?
The Wanda Jackson cover ("Funnel Of Love") is worth the price of admission alone.
Spin both discs at your next party. Just hide the sharp cutlery from the guests.
T. Tex Edwards is a Texas treasure, and despite a few hiccups, "Intexicated" is an excellent introduction to his particular brand of genius. Sometimes still best-known for his stint in the Dallas-area punk band Nervebreakers who opened for Sex Pistols and backed Roky Erickson, Edwards nevertheless should be better known for his pioneering work in the cowpunk tradition.
Well, at least now I know why I didn't buy all those Euroboots of Stoogestuff.
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