Oct 25, 2011

JACK OBLIVIAN "Rat City" LP

     Each time Jackie O'Yarber releases a record it's like hanging out in a used record store that doubles as a greasy spoon eatery. So not only selling music they serve up cooked in beef tallow french fries, the juiciest burgers for miles around and when you ask for a Coca-Cola they don't tell you "We carry Pepsi products". Instead inform that you've got the choice of RC Cola or a Boilermaker.
     Unlike a lot of record stores too that have their selection somewhat divided up into genres-Jack's used record emporium and grill sometimes don't even bother having them filed in alphabetical order. Forgotten Memphis soul sides of the 60's find themselves leaning next international cheeky pop hits of the 70's, million sellers classic rock standards sandwiched between basement rock and garage punk bands that pressed 300 copies of their only record before fading into obscurity and all but forgotten save for a few collectors of such things and pure country & western slabs find themselves neighboring with synth laden/funny hair driven new wave 12 inches.
     This has resulted in Memphis Jack Oblivian living by the adage of what Pablo Picasso (or was it someone like David Lee Roth) said that "Good artists borrow, great artists steal" and his latest album, Rat City, is no different. Jack processes all of the sounds that has passed through his brain through the years, be it a lick here, a lyric there, and assimilates them into his own brand of musical barbecue sauce. Listening to it can raise some interesting and mostly likely ridiculous conversation amongst collectors of arcane and fans of music that's not so popular with regular everyday people these days.
     For instance would the ghosts of Lightnin' Hopkins and Hound Dog Taylor give Jack the keys to a phantom Cadillac for keeping their boogie alive on the record's full of fuzz title track and the cracked ribs barroom dance beat bottom'd "Old Folks Boogie" or would the pissed and pull out a gun for him not giving them co-writing credit as well doing adding a bit of punk rock mess to the proceedings? A similar question could be raised with the Stax foundation that it sounds "Caboose Jump", a tune about it beinga long time but, baby, she's still looking fine, that would instantly fill dance floors in a more perfect world, is built upon.
    Is the opening line "Yeah, What are you gonna now' of the Jonathan Richman if he wasn't afraid to fight country rock charmer "Girl With The Bruises" inspired after hearing Clash's "Clampdown"? And what happens if you take another country rock charmer, grafted it with some of the vibes that Stiv Bators Disconnected was going for could you get much better results than "Dark Eyes"? I'm thinking mostly likely not. Consult your own Magic 8-Ball if you feel the need though.
     Does Jack hide his copy of the Talking Heads Remain In Light album when company is over because he doesn't want to get cracked on for liking that goofy new york art disco but now is letting the secret out for the goofy new york art disco gets soaked overnight in butter and black pepper with "Crime of Love".
     If Tom Petty heard "Girl On The Beach" and "Jealous Heart" (which opening line has gotta be a subtle nod to Alex Chilton with it's "I'm free to do what I want" and where the songs protagonist goes from working in a gas station in the bad part of town to getting a gig as a late night radio disk jockey. Talk about total American rock! You can't get it much more than that) would he think "I remember when I wrote songs like this. And people still like him" then call Jeff Lynne to curse him for all those plastic coated production jobs he's been doing forever?
    Is it a good thing that Jack doesn't have some disgruntled ex-manager that would try to take him to court over the reasoning that "Mass Confusion" sounds like the dirty funky blues that he's been doing since the Oblivians (but with an, ahem, "more studio rock session guys" rhythm section.)
     With all that said not only are Jack's records a fun time listen but can be a fun game of playing Spot The Difference. Party record of the year!
http://biglegalmessrecords.com

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