Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Thee Atomic Jesus

Oh my!

We said we'd have a legend coming up, and sure enough, we do.

Thee Legendary Asthmatic Avenger is, well, a little special. Is he Country? Is he Trash? Is he a genius? Is he mildly...differently-abled? We think he's all of the above. With an emphasis on "Country genius". For context, we feel compelled to quote a bit from his bio on his website (sic, of course):

"Among the big upholders of the law of this world, one finds Superman, the Pope, Batman, or still Wonder Woman to quote only those there. Lowering batard of this family of more or less masked avengers, the MYSTERIOUS ASTHMATIC AVENGER has for mission to save the world of the moral order, the Cartesianism and the precarious and mental balance which characterizes the human race.
Endowed well on great unlimited powers, it is with the devilish precision, that he massacres and simplifies for you the big classical authors of Rock n Roll, making them so accessible to all. Masked, wearing an antigravity cap, armed with his marvelous Haze, the enchanted guitar, Mysterious asthmatic avenger composes also makes the crowds jodel ! His idols are Hasil Adkins, Jack Starr, and Franzel Lang.
So the avenging minstrell goes away on roads and meets on a night of thunderstorm ZARGHLA, the god made from French stinking cheese. It is only while Mysterious becomes the first apostle of the Big Milky, and will go to preach the good, serving disorder causes him of this new religion: the ZARGHLISME. Primitive rites used in the celebration of this cult associate among others trow of sausages Knacky (or of Strasbourg and possibly Frankfort), Tyrolean yodel, and cheese immolation.
When Mysterious Asthmatic Avenger sings Zarghla's praises, accompanied by him every only one in the guitar, the cymbal and the rhythmic suitcase, the country-folk-psychiatric music flies away in the limits of the hard-gore accoustic musical experiments, for the biggest happiness of the heavenly Camembert which looks at him of height..."

What more do you need to know? Who is this mysterious Masked Man? Is he really the god-like Reverend/Lightning Beat-Man? Is he someone else entirely, a man on a trailer trash mission from the yee-haw Country gods of scunge mountain garbage? From another continent? Maybe. Does he meet every requirement we, the Immortal Mountain, ask of the rock and the roll?

Perhaps this record was recorded in a bucket, with a hole in it. Perhaps in some junkyard with the ghosts of Hasil Adkins, Jimmie Skinner, and Jimmie Rodgers (it's the yodel, kids) banging on pots and pans and nodding vocal approval over the proceedings. A mountain heart with a garbage collector's soul.

The following atomic powered songs of Jesus and the end of the world are taken from the essential record "My Mother Killed Rock and Roll (in 1979)", committed to acetate with the help of Voodoo Rhythm Records very own Thee Watzloves and special guest Hortense "Pneumonia" Blutchinson.

This may be the most essential thing you'll hear all year! Hyperbole intact!

A stompin', hillbilly, revival meetin' good time! Ripped from glorious 10" Vinyl!!

Thee Mysterious Asthmatic Avenger: Atomic Power (mp3)

Thee Mysterious Asthmatic Avenger: Rock and Roll Killed My Mother (mp3)

Thee Mysterious Asthmatic Avenger: My Name Is Jesus (mp3)

Thee Mysterious Asthmatic Avenger: Jesus Walking (mp3)

Please support your local, independent masked marvels.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Country Sunshine

Stay tuned for a very important poll and announcement. Really. No kidding. You know, when I get around to it. In glacial Big Rock Candy Mountain Time.


Dottie West is one of those strange Country conundrums. Most of her work was, frankly, comprised of, and compromised by, bad Countrypolitan production, a victim of the times (Her heyday was the late 60's through the 70's) more than her talent. She possessed a sultry, almost smoky, honky tonk voice, rough around the edges with a knowing nod, and posterity can only dream of what it would sound like backed by a proper mountain music, hardwood scootin' yeehaw band. As it is, though, one can find some fantastic nuggets in her catalog.

West's career began with plenty of promise. With close friendships with the likes of Willie Nelson, Roger Miller and, especially, Patsy Cline, West was certainly exposed to the cream of the crop in Country vocalists and composers. You can hear their influence on her even through the syrupy instrumentation of her later years. Hooking up with Chet Atkins at the boards, West released a slew of classic-sounding records focusing on more traditional, but ballad-heavy, fare including the hits "Paper Mansions" and "Would You Hold It Against Me". Those records dipped into the cheese, as it were, but still retained a traditional feel. She was eventually welcomed into to the Grand Ol' Opry's family of performers.

Then came a popular soft drink company, which signed West on as a jingle writer, of all things, for it's commercials, based largely on the success of her song "Country Girl". This contract led eventually to the smash single (and arguably one of West's best songs, believe it or not) "Country Sunshine". What followed was a strange career path, low-lighted by financial and marital troubles, a session with Oui Magazine, and declining musical credibility as a solo artist (though not according to the charts...Country was moving into it's "bad" period).

Oddly, during this time, West shined as a duet partner, recording some killer singles with the likes of Jim Reeves, Don Gibson, and, yes, Kenny Rogers. The mid-to-late 80's were not particularly kind to West.

West died in a car accident in 1991.

Perhaps one of the most important aspect of West's career was her ability early on in her career, in an era dominated by men, where female Country artists were compelled to follow male dictates and "opinionated" women were looked down upon, to do things the way she wanted. Like Dolly Parton, she took no shit, made the records she wanted, and resolutely rejected, until her unfortunate turn in the 80's towards men's magazine photo shoots, the generic over-sexualization of her image. (To be fair, Parton was sexualized, but it was her own choice, and demands an extended look that we're not prepared, at this point, to go into). The later disappointments in her music choices suggest that she may have been more willing toward compromise.

And her voice...good gravy, a hell of voice. Did we mention that already?

"Country Sunshine", despite having it's origins as a commercial, is one of our favorite songs. Remove the aspect of selling product, and you get a sweet, sweet evocation of a lost era where Country music could convey a lifestyle less redneck and more innocent. "Delta Dawn", with it's heavenly Country Gospel chorus does Bobbie Gentry one better in Southern circumstance. "Reno", could easily be viewed as a woman's response to Mary Robbin's burnt desert classic "El Paso". I challenge anyone, and I mean anyone, who can't can't resist the urge to grab that special someone and dance along to "Anyone Who Isn't Me Tonight", Kenny Rogers be damned. "Last Time I Saw Him" (with killer, last-road-trip banjo and fiddle) has one of West's best vocals. With "I'm Your Country Girl" you can fall in love with girl in the gingham dress. And, finally, who can't help but raise a toast to West's take on Mountain fave rave "Night Life".

Dottie West: Country Sunshine (mp3)

Dottie West: Delta Dawn (Ripped from vinyl)(mp3)

Dottie West: Reno (mp3)

Dottie West w/Kenny Rogers(!): Anyone Who Isn't Me Tonight (mp3)

Dottie West: Last Time I Saw Him (mp3)

Dottie West: I'm Your Country Girl(Ripped from Vinyl)(mp3)

Dottie West: Night Life (mp3)

Please consider your local, independent record store for all your cosmopolitan recordings.