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The Jam Session: Southern Culture on the Skids

 Wherein Glenn Brooks, Jason Staczek, Scott Boggan and Bill Kuhn get together with some choice brews to listen to the music Southern Culture on the Skids.

Southern Culture on the Skids  Dirt Track Date
the review

(gurgling of ale filling a glass...)

BK All right!
JS That's spectacular.
GB This is "Skullbucket." One of the two or three instrumentals on the album.
BK Whoa.
SB A total Link Wray thing going.
BK Kind of rumbly though. Seems like he's lower pitched. Ooo. Well. I'm sorry.
JS You can't even get that on a regular Fender. You gotta get a modified Fender amp to get that.
SB Well I don't know. I think you turn it up to 11 and you can get this.
JS You can get that vibrato that fast.
SB Sure. It's not the intensity, but the speed you gotta get. Now let's see. What does he play. Says he plays a Danelectro guitar and Supro amps.
GB Supro. I'll be darned.
SB Supro. Yeah. Another sixties era amplifier manufacturer.
BK And that's David Hartman on whip.
JS David Hartman?
SB Is that Mary's brother?
JS The talk show host?
GB The talk show host. Yeah. From "The Today Show." Not "The Today Show." "Good Morning America." That's great stuff.
GB Oh. They put out a lot of music for a trio.
SB Ohh. I'm really bummed I missed these guys live.
JS Oh yeah?
SB They were here two months ago.
GB Is that right?
SB At the Crocodile.
GB Nice thing about a trio is there's no room to hide.
SB Yeah. Now these guys are mining the same sort of classic sound as Steve Ferguson. But they're a little more cartoony. A little campier.
GB Oh definitely.
SB They'd play better to the younger, alternative set.
JS This caricature of the original?
GB Yeah. It's not entirely a caricature.
SB That's pretty damn authentic.
BK The original Link Wray stuff is pretty much a caricature.

"Camel Walk"
SB Yeah. Here we have "Camel Walk."
BK As in, "I'd walk a mile for a..."
SB As in, "walk like a camel."
BK Oh, yeah, it does have an Egypto-motif.
GB Yup. This is the tribute to Little Debbie and her amazing cream pies.
SB Is this the one where they sing Little Debbie?
GB Little Debbie, Little Debbie.
SB Wow.
GB Listen to Mary Huff on bass there.
SB Yeah. I read that she's married, actually, to the guitar player.
GB Is that right?
BK With a song like this, Steve Martin must be rolling over in his grave.
SB Lotta swoops on the bass there.
GB Yeah. Isn't that great? "You make me walk like a camel!"
BK Really now. What's the difference between these guys and the B-52's?
GB There're only three of them.
SB The B-52's were just a little too clean. They didn't have this gritty, vibrato guitar, you know?
BK I think of them as the older, classic '52's.
SB Plus they don't have the Hanna-Barbera background vocals, you know?
BK Yeah. That's right. This has the ooo-wee.
GB But I think you're right. Anyone who likes the B-52's would like Southern Culture.
BK Oh, yeah. I mean this has frat party all over it.
JS That is southern culture, right? That's the fraternity culture.

"Soul City"
GB This is "Soul City", which I gather is an actual nightclub outside of some small town wherever Southern Culture is from.
(first verse lyrics-"It don't matter if your pants are shiny/If your dick is big or your dick is tiny"-provokes spasms of juvenile laughter)
SB Got that Stevie Ray kind of guitar thing.
JS Yeah. Churnin'.
(second verse-"The machines are big, but the women are bigger/and those panty hose makes 'em look like winners"-gets another rise)
GB I have the funniest feeling when they sing this song live, they don't rhyme "bigger" with "winners." When they sing "those panty hose makes 'em look like winners" I'll bet they don't sing "winners".
SB Ahhh...I don't think so.
BK That's your southern culture.
GB It is kind of a soulful song, though.
JS Hey, man! There's two guitars there.
SB There are.
JS What's going on with that? Frankenstein.
SB I bet they carry it off live, though. You don't need that second guitar.
JS You just turn that first guitar up loud enough.
SB Turn it up. Get the bass humpin'.
BK How long these guys been around?
SB At least five years playing live.
GB Oh, at least five. I think it's more like...
SB More like ten.
SB But just recording, like the last five on indies. This is their major label debut on Geffen.
JS Gotta a Red Hot Chili Peppers kind of flavor.
GB Yeah. I hope they do well on Geffen 'cause I'd love to get some more stuff.
SB Yeah. They're pushing them pretty well. I've seen some good retail in-store stuff going.
BK Longevity wins out.
JS There you go.

"Make Mayan a Hawaiian"
SB These guys are definitely field-tested.
BK This is "Make Mayan a Hawaiian."
SB This is almost lounge-ish.
BK Oh yeah.
BK Get those tiki torches out. You know this is actually not unlike some of those David Lindley albums.
JS That's exactly what I was thinking.
SB Like El-Rayo X.
BK You ever heard any of those?
SB Yeah.
BK It's got that "Tiki Torches at Moonlight" thing.
GB Rick Miller's a hell of a guitarist.
SB Who is?
GB He's got a whole passel of sounds in his bag of tricks.
JS Great tambourinist.
GB That's the thing, though. They're a great trio. They all work together. No one slouches.
JS We don't know what it's like in the studio. We haven't seen it.
GB Yeah. That's true. I'll bet you go away from a live performance by them feeling pretty damn happy, though.
BK Oh, I think so. I think so.
SB And probably feeling pretty bad in the morning. Just a guess.
GB If you did it right. Speaking of which. Vashon Old Stock Ale...
BK Is powering this session.
JS Brewed with "real Northwest fervor."
SB Fervor? Is that a typo?
JS Yeah. They meant to say "hops".
GB Most of the songs on the album are under three minutes. Just get in, get the job done...
BK Sometimes, that's a real advantage. Like this one.
JS It's radio-friendly.
SB This is one where...
BK I'm a big fan of the 2:30 pop song.
SB That's a cool out song. That's all that is. It serves its purpose in the set list and then they move on.
GB Move on to something like, "Nitty Gritty". "Nitty Gritty"
GB Where Mary Huff gets to take the vocal lead.
BK Nominally just the bass-player and hand-clapper.
GB Right.
JS You can hear an organ in there. I heard an organ in there.
SB You're right. Which is strange because Mary Huff is singing. Wait a minute...
BK That may be why she's singing.
GB Well that may not be an organ. That may be David Hartman on ashtray.
JS Could be. Could be.
BK Or gooseneck. He's got a remarkable set of...
SB Oh. Mary Huff's on organ.
GB Is that right?
JS That's who I'd want to have on it.
GB Hey. There are two Mary Huffs. How does she do that?
BK Sounds like the B-52's to me.
JS Well here it is. If you had any questions. I'm sure they hate hearing that. They hear it all the time. I'm sure they do.
SB C'mon. Did the B-52's ever have this type of guitar. No way.
JS No. They had that guy chirping the vocals out all the time.
SB Yeah. That guy. That Fred guy.
GB Southern Culture is the Ezell's Fried Chicken and B-52's are the Colonel's Nuggets.
SB Yeah.
BK You may be happy to know that Mark Williams, who is credited with recording and mixing, exclusively endorses Lava-Lite, by Lava Simplex.
GB Well. There's another B-52's connection.
BK I've said my piece.
SB Lava Simplex. Is that a new strain? What is that?
BK It's incurable, apparently.
GB That's a nice song. You can just see the folks dancing to that. It's hard to sit still.

"8-piece Box"
GB I think this one, "8-piece Box", is on every Southern Culture album ever recorded.
SB Yeah. I read an interview that said that Geffen made them record this. They didn't want to do it, but they forced them.
GB They are known for this. I gather in their live shows they get some...
SB Chicken.
GB ...some KFC and toss it out to the audience.
JS That's what this is. 8-piece box of KFC?
GB Yeah, sure. That's what it's about.
BK Real problem is when they open for Ozzy [Ozbourne] he's out there chompin' at the chicken.
GB Ozzy goes first and tosses the live ones out, then they grab 'em, fry 'em and toss 'em out later. Ozzy opens for them. It's the only way it works, chicken-wise.
BK Oh, maybe that's not what it's about.
GB Ohhhhh? Nahh. There's the chicken guitar.
BK A little chicken-pickin' huh?
SB Gotta be.
JS Duk-duk-duk-duk-duk-duk....
GB Yeah. That's chicken. "Lay it on the table/Open it up /Dig on in." They're talking about chicken. "Got me a breast."
SB Glenn would you care to explain what's on the cover, underneath...
GB On the cover?
GB Yeah. It's a picture of a dirt track. Someone lost their...engagement ring.
SB Is that what that is?
GB Yeah.
SB One of those kind you get out of the vending machine in the bathroom at the bar.
GB You take it home and say, "Mind if I slip this on?"
BK No hanky-panky 'til I get that engagement ring.
GB "Ssss-nackin' all night..."
SB That's right. Of course.
GB "Snackin' all night. On that 8-piece box."
BK I thought that was that Nirvana song. Didn't they do that "8-piece Box"?
JS "8-piece Box". Yeah.
SB Yeah. That was it.
GB Another great southern trio.
BK It's a shame we're not going to have a chance to listen to "Fried Chicken and Gasoline."
GB It's kind of redundant after this.
SB So, J, would you go see this band live?
JS Oh yeah. Where would they play in town, you think?
SB The Croc is where they played last time. Perfect.

"Whole Lotta Things"
JS Not S.I.R. [Seattle International Raceway]?
BK S.I.R. might be better.
SB Set up with some bleachers out there. Actually it'd be more like the Monroe Speedway. I don't think they have demolition...
GB Yup. This is their rockabilly number, "Whole Lotta Things."
JS "Whole Lotta Things."
GB It's almost got that Buddy Holly and The Crickets harmony.
BK Yeah. That was the great thing about Buddy Holly. Always had those wacky Crickets harmonies.
GB Yes.
BK If you really listen to those old songs he's going wild and they're back there with these bizarro doo-wop-wop things.
SB A-yup. Doing some Bo Diddley beat.
BK I think this is my favorite one of the ones we've heard.
JS Oh yeah? I'll vote for "Soul City" so far.
BK Oh, "Soul City." That was a good one.
SB I go "Skullbucket." That's just dirty.
GB There're almost no weak tracks on the album.
BK This reminds me of that "Too Much Fun."
SB Yeah.
GB Very crisp.
JS Right on.
SB That vibrato guitar going the whole time.
GB Chicka-chicka.

Copyright © 1996 Peppercorn Press. All rights reserved.