FAME Review: Big Shanty - Collection
Big Shanty - Collection


Big Shanty

King Mojo Records - KMR 2011

Available from CD Baby.

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

This is brash, cocky, rock-blues that's thick, greasy, sticky, and distorted, a blustering mode that, as the promo lit has it, would be in no way out of place in pretty much any biker bar juke-box. Big Shanty (real name, ironically: Dick Wooley) stormed into the blues world in 2007 with a CD, Ride with the Wind, that provoked Real Blues magazine to grant it the year's top slot in rip snorting releases. Shanty himself plays a constantly satisfying slide guitar and recruited some rather impressive eccentrics and underlauded compeers to sit in, gents like Col. Bruce Hampton (one of the true proto jam band legends), Jack Hall from the much-missed Wet Willie, and Hydra's Spencer Kirkpatrick (boys and girls, if you didn't catch their debut LP…hooo-ee!, you have no idea what you're missing—the slab went totally unknown, but, lawdy-lawd, it's mighty fine).

Of course, his regulars are no slouches (listen to Scott Robertson's drums on Been Like That, f'rinstance), and the guy never fails to snag a tasty lead player: Beau Hall, Liz Melendez, Eddie Jett, etc. Shanty growls in a gravelly voice reeking of back alleys, open desert roads, and shady dives in Bummephuque, Montana. He hasn't just passed through these places but taken up residence, eyewitness to more than one murky Purgatory as bartender, bouncer, bad boy, and bide-a-wee hellraiser bent on tearing up the floorboards just to see what'll happen. Of course, he's also had his calloused heart broken a time or two along the long road; that, after all, is the curriculum of a bad actor majoring in Weird Romances 101A, minoring in Seagram's Studies, heading for a doctorate. Live tracks are interspersed with studio cuts, and things get really smoky in the all-right-there ambiance, Dave Ylvisaker's swirling organ setting up dark swamp nights and cloudy full moons. Through it all, ya can't escape that slide Shanty wields, however, an omnipresent elastic buzz underscoring everything.

This 2-CD is an outrageous bargain: $10—no, you read that right, so grab a copy; best sawbuck you'll spend until summer, gah-roan-teed! A generous anthology of 19 cuts from previous releases, Collection drags your ears to the underside of Oz, a seedy funk milieu of decay, Mad Max transients, blast furnaces, and groovin' demons. Shanty's the tour guide, and this ain't Disneyland, so have either hooch, hallucinogens, or tranks ready to hand. Anyone going in straight ain't comin' out the same.

Track List:

Disc OneDisc Two
  • Whiskey Woman (Dick Wooley)
  • Stop Pushing Me (Wooley / Robertson)
  • They Say It's Raining (Dick Wooley)
  • Got a Hold on Me (Dick Wooley)
  • Queen of Hearts has Just Disappeared (Dick Wooley)
  • Right SCombination (Dick Wooley)
  • World of Trouble (Dick Wooley)
  • Smoke & Mirrors Jam (Wooley / Robertson / Heath)
  • 100 Pound Hammer (Dick Wooley)
  • Killing Fields (Wooley / Robertson)
  • Uncle Sam Go to Rehab (Dick Wooley)
  • New Messiah (Dick Wooley)
  • Born Up in Trouble (Dick Wooley)
  • Living on the Edge of Time (Wooley / Robertson)
  • Gone Downtown (Dick Wooley)
  • Kiss the Eight Ball (Wooley / Robertson)
  • Love Train (Dick Wooley)
  • Walking Shoes (Dick Wooley)
  • Ride with the Wind (Dick Wooley)

Edited by: David N. Pyles


Copyright 2011, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
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