Cover songs are a tricky affair. Most of the time they’re uninspired karaoke versions, but every now and then someone comes up with one that takes the source material to a whole new place.
In the case of The Gourds version of Snoop Dogg’s seminal hit “Gin and Juice,” it’s a place that most will agree is great.
I’ve had this tune in my crate for some time now, but it was mis-labeled as being by Phish…which I believed for quite sometime until I found someone who claimed it was by the Barenaked Ladies. Then Andrew did some research and corrected me.
It must be, because the fog it finally going away here in Los Angeles…which is a good time to introduce you to some wicked blue eyed soul from my favorite man, Tony Joe White.
Born and raised in Oak Grove Louisiana, Tony Joe was raised on blues, country and cajun music. He formed his first band in his teens, and had his first (and probably only) mainstream hit in 1969 with “Polk Salad Annie.” It was a rousing soulful tune that would later be covered by Elvis and Tom Jones. His sound is easily summed up by the man himself, who calls it swamp rock. “The Train I’m On” is probably my favorite of his albums and criminally under-appreciated.
Recorded in Muscle Shoals Alabama, the album oozes southern feel. This is the Tony Joe album that covers the most of his styles and influences (as the videos here will attest)…from crooning ballads, country soul to stanky stompers, it has it all. The only bad thing about this album is how few people are aware that it exists.
Or even that Tony Joe exists.
Tony released a lot of albums in the late sixties and seventies, but backed away from the scene after some failed attempts to mix his style with disco and basically sat out the 80s, before staging a comeback in the 90′s with the help of Producer Roger Davies. He is currently touring and recording on Hip-O Records. I recommend digging up as much of his stuff as you possibly can. He has recently been discovered by the re-editors and re-mixers who have come up with some awesome sauce reworking of his tracks like this!
That was before life bogged me down and I started worrying about things like mortgages, and bills and drinking and driving.
Most of the time the bands were okay. Some of the times they sucked, but on a very rare occasion I got my mind blown.
That was what happened when I first saw The Cousin Lovers.
Don’t let the name fool you, this isn’t a novelty act or some kind of musical joke. The Cousin Lovers were as serious as a heart attack and then some…and they did it all bluegrass style. For the uninformed amongst you, bluegrass is about as American a musical genre as you could get; mixing country, jazz and a lot of immigrant influence from the music of Ireland and the UK. What you got was a lot of great musicians improvising around a central melody and breaking it down from there.
Breaking it down where? Could be into gospel territory, a waltz or a good old timey swinger.
But before The Cousin Lovers arrived I knew nothing about it. Luckily after that first night I spent some time drinking scotch with the front man Tim Ferguson…probably one of the most talented motherfuckers I know ( Singer, songwriter, sculptor, mandolin player, chocolatier and now ice cream truck guy.No shit! ) He taught me all about old timey country…from Bill Monroe to The Louvin Brothers. But along with Dean (guitar) and Barry Thomas (stand up bass) Stuart Johnson on drums and the amazing Craig Eastman on fiddle the group really put everything they had into every song.
Watching from the back of a packed house at the Mint, I could only wonder why no record company had picked them up. Then I remembered that most record companies suck and that’s why they are now disappearing.
But the band wasn’t always all there. Sometimes Stuart was on tour and they had to play without drums. Sometimes Craig (a very in demand studio musician) had to hit the studio and they had to go on without a fiddle. But even a show of only Tim and Dean could be something special…it usually meant some gorgeous harmonies and a lot of southern gospel. They went through several bass players too when Barry had to head back east to take care of an ailing relative. Eventually Craig was replaced by the talented Julie Pusch who brought her own flavor to the group.
I was just pleased as punch any time I got to go see them… in whatever configuration they showed up as.
The band appears to have dissolved now, it’s pieces scattered to the winds…their website deserted. All that remains is this…their only record. It’s name more than just an obscure reference to the movie Vernon, Florida.
So it appears I am back again, for the time being, as the writing seems to agree with me and fight off malaise.
The reason I skipped out was that was becoming too much of a chore to write these really long in depth posts and do all the research and whatnot. Then I kind of realized that I didn’t have to write long posts. In fact, the rest of the ADD population would probably be okay with it too.
So in the future, the posts may be shorter, but the albums will be no less essential.
I don’t know if you have seen Eastbound and Down, Jody Hill and Danny McBride’s show about a washout MLB pitcher…but you should. If you don’t have HBO, you should buy the DVDs or simply download the episodes off a torrent site like the rest of the world.
But, aside from the fact that is was some of the funniest shit I’ve ever seen on TV, it also had some of the most expertly chosen music I’ve ever seen put on a TV show. I’ve searched the interwebs high and low for the name of the individual responsible for this picking, but so far I’ve come up with nothing except a vague reference to Wayne Kramer. If he was the man, then kudos to you Wayne! If it was someone else, then someone please post his name in the comment section so I can send him beer in the mail because…damn!
Yes…this song is on the soundtrack.
Aside from some monstrous blues riffs like Freddie King’s – Going Down and R.L. Burnside’s – Let My Baby Ride, the musical selection jumps all over …from The Black Keys to Canadian rockers April Wine. Where Trentemoller and Spank Rock sit beside Lee Hazlewood and Kenny Rogers. If you see them used on the show, every song hits the mood perfectly. If you just pop in the soundtrack, you’re left with a no less enjoyable trip down eclectic lane. And if you don’t own any music from these artists, you can pop this in at your next gathering and look like a real music geek.
Unfortunately, HBO and the guys from the show never got around to compiling or releasing this soundtrack. Why, I’ll never know?
Thank God for the internets, but mostly a shout out to Robot from Drunk on Dreams who was the first to answer my prayers by doing what HBO didn’t.
Note: All the links on his sharebee post are down…
Luckily nothing really dies on the internet, so you can just torrent the fuck out of this soundtrack HERE.
As and extra bonus, you can DL the season two soundtrack as well (Thanks to Percy Dovetonsils over at the Bastards Blog!!!) It’s even longer and more badass, and with a lot of awesome latin tunes that I recommend just as highly.
It’s too bad this wasn’t given a proper release, but at least you can still get it anyways.