After getting out of their major-label contract, North Carolina’s venerable Southern Culture On The Skids took their own sweet time issuing a full-length follow-up to 1997′s Plastic Seat Sweat. Cynics who reckoned the group’s fried chicken/”Hee Haw” image was more white trash schtick than a source of genuine musical mystique will most likely remain unswayed by these new tales of booze, beehive hairdos and backyard boogies. For roots fans in search of some no-nonsense, down-home choogle ‘n’ crunch, however, there’s plenty of virtuoso playing here to, ah, salute.
Chief among the highlights: “Drunk And Lonesome (Again)”, a George Jones-styled slice of honky-tonk; the mariachi-fried title track; a horny-horns throwdown called “I Learned To Dance In Mississippi” (specifically, according to songwriter Rick Miller, at Junior Kimbrough’s juke-joint); “Haw River Stomp”, which references a well-known Carolina stream as it serves up some of the best swamp rock this side of Tony Joe White; and “Just How Lonely”, a slice of organ-and-jangle folk rock worthy of the Byrds or Jayhawks songbook, and sung by bassist Mary Huff in her sweetest, most despairingly Patsy Cline wail.
Also, in the proud S.C.O.T.S. tradition of only the choicest of obscure covers (joining past readings of Link Wray, the Sonics, the Louvin Brothers, the Fugs and more) comes Roger & the Gypsies’ “Pass The Hatchet”, a Latino-flavored soul strut that comes off as a sinewy, lascivious cross between “Working On The Chain Gang”, Booker T & the MGs and Creedence Clearwater Revival. Ample testimony that, all schtick aside, Southern Culture’s taste in music tends to run a bit deeper and classier than the average yokel.