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The Asylum Street Spankers - What? And Give Up Show Biz?

And Give Up Show Biz?

The Asylum Street Spankers

YDR 1408

Available fron Asylum Street Spankers' store.

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Mark S. Tucker

I've already exposed my weakness for cool craziness in music—there's too damn little of it in any age or era—so this was a very welcome 2-CD set retrieved from the mailbox as the letters and adverts cowered away from it in the corner, muttering "What the hell…?". The Asylum Street Spankers (A.S.S. to you) is an ensemble founded 14 years ago by Christina Marrs and Wammo in the aftermath of a boozed-up blowout in Llano, Texas, the perfect place for such doin's. From, ahem!, innocent beginnings began a troupe managing to catch the approval of Rolling Stone, Newsweek, Hollywood Reporter, Variety, and a slew of high-level, high-brow, high-off-the-mimeo-fumes crit rags. The accolades are quite deserved, trust me.

Picture the Prairie Home Companion crew bongloading hashcakes with gin chasers at a trailer park BBQ in the delta after a day spent accidentally inhaling paint fumes from the dump next door, and you have a rough idea what you're in for. Actually, the octet is down home and friendly, if, er, non-stop cynicism is your idea of warm-heartedness, not to mention talented and more than ready to raise a ruckus at the drop of a hat…and they'll bring the hat. Basing in cuntry (<—no mistake! listen to My Country's Calling Me) & blues, 40s vaudeville, Dixie klezmer, jug, blue humor, tons o' tude 'n more 'n a lil' hot playing (harp; musical saw; various string thingies; and what they call 'violin'—I say 'fiddle'; ). But wait, here's a sample lyric:

Speed is a drag, it's a big big drag
Sets your mind on fire,
Makes your organ sag
Coke is a joke, rather take a toke
Than be broken and a-chokin'
With your brain cells smokin'
Trippin' on acid makes you flaccid [uninterpreble] too rich for me
Heroin, aquarium,
A nice fine box to bury in
Marijuana makes me wanna eat candy and eat Madonna
With her hair bleached by peroxide
Huffin' on some nitrous oxide

Well, I tried 'em all, and it might sound queer
Favorite drug's a nice cold beer
Beer, beer, beer, beer, beer, beer, beer, beer
Beer beer beer beer, we love beer


…and it only gets better after that. Ahh, but everything's live, too! Culled from 14 performances in a two-week off-Broadway run in NYC, there's chaos a-plenty, smokin' licks, Looney Tunes wise-acre-ry, yelpin' beltin' by Christina, and—and I swear to God this is true—Tuva throat singing from Charlie King! Now that's quality!! See if you can get it at Carnegie Hall. I don't think so.

And this goes on for two whole hours! Are ya a conspiracy buff? Lay an ear to My Baby in the CIA". Hankering for drama? Catch the harrowing real-life Bus Story. Missing yer Saturday Nite lobotomal B&D? Asylum Street Blues will fix ya right up (rocks like a mutha, too). You'll be toe-tappin', butt wigglin', grinnin', spittin', cussin', and Great Good Gawd A'mighty only knows what all, but you'll not for a moment regret ya wandered in for the show—gah-roan-teed. And one last thing, when all's said and done: Bill Hicks woulda loved these guys.

Track List:

  • Ladies and Gentlemen, I've Wasted my Life
  • Everybody Loves My Baby
  • Nice Theater
  • My Country's Calling Me
  • Winning the War on Drugs
  • Blue Prelude
  • It's Good to be Here in, uh…
  • Why Do It Right?
  • Stanley and Wammo
  • Since I Met You Baby
  • Gig from Hell
  • Monkey Rag
  • The Morning Moron M Xob
  • Medley of Burned Out Songs
  • Beer
  • Strange Talents
  • Leaf Blower
  • The Bus Sory
  • Think About Your Troubles
  • Daddy Drinks Because You Cry
  • You Only Love Me for My Lunchbox
  • Y'all Like Love Songs?
  • My Baby in the CIA
  • Read Thinner Books
  • Asylum Street Blues
  • Breathin'
  • Bathroom Break
  • Big Noise form Winnetka
  • Hick Hop
  • Got my Mojo Workin'
  • Take a Good Look…
  • My Favorite Record
  • Encore!
  • Blade of Grass
  • Requests?
  • Pakalolo Baby
  • Tight Like That
  • Wake and Bake
  • TV Party
  • Goodnight
  • Stick Magnetic Ribbons on Your SUV
(Fuck me if I'm gonna list all the credits, just buy the damn thing!)

Edited by: David N. Pyles

Copyright 2009, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.

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