The Asylum Street Spankers aren't your typical band, nor your typical atypical band, and not even your typical idiosyncratic band, possessing highly refined musical senses, outrageous lyrical sensibilities, ultra-honed chops, and a huge grasp of subtle and overt humors both musical and literary. Their live What? And Give Up Show Biz? was reviewed here, and it's a great live showcase of the kind of whirligig show the band puts on, but the studio work has to be heard to be believed, making jug and New Orleans as much a museum quality commodity as prime elder days examples, albeit through an antiquary curated by a refined pervert.
This is not, as the title might infer, a tribute disc, an anthology of the music the band members grew up with…well, not precisely anyway. What the Spankers do is incorporate various sources into a dozen cuts admitting only one cover (Willie Dixon—good choice!), but reflective of a number of modes and styles. The initial cut, Monkey Rag, is as if lifted from an old Fleischer Bros. cartoon, and Breathin' vamps the sceret side of eros from the very first note, a breathy track oozing estrogen and…er, other liquids. Christina Marrs sings in one of those babygirl jailbait voices that's going to pose a big problem for a lot of male listeners who will find themselves remembering what adolescence was like, what oversized Math books were really for, and how Tripod Jimmy got his nickname.
Whatever gives a rather illustrative idea of the ribaldry that pervades *any* Spankers disc:
I'll be a Marxist
I've got to change my mind, masticate
…and it ends out reprising the Beatles' "I am the Walrus" cacaphony (by the way, has father danced yet?).
Elsewhere, you'll hear Elvis blended with Black Sabbath (Wammo's Blues), Marrs wailing like a banshee shouter (that woman's versatile and then some!), and you can catch both impressive and hilarious solos in the instrumental The Minor Waltz, kinda like a highly skilled boner-take on prog excesses by way of The Outer Limits in a Missouri cornfield…complete with musical saw. No matter where ya go, there's a very satisfying, titillating, and eclectic blend of everything-at-once Waring Blendered together for the hallmark Spankers smart-assily classed-up trademark. Hell, even the liner notes, carrying credits to songs that don't exist are witty. If Jim Kweskin was the quintessence of jug in the 60s, the Spankers have taken his place in the 00s, with all the evolution that implies…including the Bonzo Dog Band, 10cc, and God only knows who else.
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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