01 March 2016

HUSKY BURNETTE - Ain't Nothin' But A Revival!

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In a perfect world, Husky Burnette's new album Ain't Nothin' But A Revival would be played all over radio. People would be using Husky's name and the word Skynyrd in the same sentence, or say something about Howlin' Wolf playing Petty songs or something nice like that when they're talking about him.

I'm not saying he's yet the equal of the aforementioned, but he's at least, kissin' cousins. Husky Burnette comes from a long line of southern guitar rock and roll hellions, personally, historically, and traditionally, and he's keeping it alive and real with his own five-finger shot of hot-rodded, dirty, dirty, country-ass metalbilly blues.

This is Husky's second album (his third album) for North Carolina's Rusty Knuckles Records . The label is run by an ex-Epitaph Records dealer known as Ralph Miller, who's obviously no stranger to the rock action, and he gets Husky right on this new album. The production is big, hot, and wet, like Husky's been dipped in late '80s metal, but it's so cool to hear this kind of tough, rootsy blues sound like this. Again. I've been waiting for it. You have too, whether you know it or not.

The music and the performances on Ain't Nothin' But A Revival are Burnette's (and band's) best yet, he's stretching out sonically, lyrically, and stylistically while retaining what we love about him in the first place, his savagely agile slide, his smokey raw voice, and his hardcore full-on ready to kick on stage if he has to delivery. That, and Husky Burnette and his band know how to boogie, baby.

Previously a solo and duo artist working with a variety of drummers (full disclosure- I jammed pick-up drums for him for two of the best gigs of my life) but he's expanded his sound over the last couple albums to a band-sized outfit, blowing up what he does naturally to the large economy size.

Burnette is assisted this time out by The Legendary Shack Shakers JD Wilkes on harp for four tracks, Hank III's lap-steel man Andy Gibson recorded the album and also plays steel on one track, lead on another. Gibson brings out Burnette's inner '70's southern superrawk vibe on this album, bringing out his R.L. Burnside covering Robin Trower, his VanHowlin' Wolf. I'm guessing it's recorded to be played loud, because it sure sounds good that way!

It's the sound you want to hear comin' loud from some big home speakers laying sideways across the hood of a rebuilt flat-black in the GTO in your own flashback grown-ass hot tub time machine weekend long kegger in the woods. It's hotter 'n a she-wolf in a ghost pepper patch, and theres an iced down truck bed set with a variety of whiskeys n' such, and your partner's just scored whatever y'all like to smoke.

The moon is a drip on dark hood...

Somebody puts on the new Husky Burnette album, Ain't Nothin' But A Party, presses play, and gets it bumpin' in the big spreakers...

Best I Can
 clicks in, then a hum and the sound of Burnette's amp crawls in your head, the bass and drums drop in and boom! You're off to the party!

Kicks Rocks
is up next, and it's a rockin' freight train boogie. The harp by J.D. Wilkes couples up in Husky's yard and blows your face out, baby.

36 Degrees - This is where the addition of a bass player pays off. Especially a thoughtful one like O'Neal Dover. It opens up the palette. This track is Burnette's power ballad...without any of the ickyness. Just a jazz-tinged slide on a rainy, cold blues.

Track four is Paid By The Hour. Y'all can probably guess what that's about. It's a rolling stroll with an open-throated JD Wilkes again on the harmonica, while Husky gets in trouble with a lady at the bar. Again.

Chicken Grease is lucky number five. It's acapella, but for the church bell-like haunting clang of iron bars. It's Burnette playing a Waitsian southern beatnik conman field holler.

Southbound High Head is Husky's 'Halen playing ZZ Top song, and it rocks proudly. As it should.

Dog Me Down. Hot damn! I've been waiting to hear Husky do a duet with  Bethany Kidd, out of Chattanooga, North Carolina. She's a local gal that Husky knew. She sings with a band called River City Hustlers. Burnette tells me that they wrote this a half-dozen years ago and even recorded it once, but it didn't make the cut. It made the cut this time. And how.
Yes, the dude actually has a belt buckle.
Dog Me Down rolls out with some slanky bass line, then to some harp, set to a controlled howl.

Then Husky and Bethany begin their lovers quarrel.

It's a finger-snappin' blues stomper and yeller that'll make you want to do some kind of dirty, high-steppin' dance to. Again, Wilkes' harp-playing acts as a secret weapon. I'll be the first to admit that when I see harmonica listed on an album I wince a little, because...come on...harp players. Wilkes knows his place so well that the whole song is enhanced by his blowing. Husky plays a tight rhythm throughout, no lead, giving Wilkes the space to wail and stretch, and while he takes advantage, it's done so thoughtfully, and brilliantly.
The band just choogles on this one in a way that's simple, and rock solid. Burnette and Kidd's vocals are sax-like, with Burnette blowing hard and lowdown, and Kidd swinging around his lead. It's a fair fight, and we all win.

Busted Flat features JD Wilkes again though here he's busier. It's an easy-going classic blues study on being broke both ways. Oddly, another song with no Burnette guitar solo.

See, I Moan The Blues is Burnette's progish blues rock showcase. It's weirdly Hendrixian, yet southern, and British. It's also crunchy and precise and it features some of Burnette's best vocals yet. The guitar solo is striking, sounding like it's over-driven then extruded thru an AM radio speaker that's been toasted by the sun of fifty summers. The drums wallop solid, the bass rocks on its heels, and Burnette grooves like the boss he is.

When My Train Comes is bluesy, soulful southern rock with a gospel walk, and a hard blues barbequed slide solo. It swaggers like a trucker dead-heading home.

Dirty Gettin' Down is the soundtrack to that last whiskey and coke, that next-to-last joint, that home-recorded cassette tape you found in the trunk of your Uncle's Camaro, the sound of that steamin' dank Georgia Friday night party lit up by heat lightning, and it's the sound of you... walking out the door of the bar at closing time.

Husky Burnette and his band tell the troubled tales of bad women, and badder men, played with loud guitars, neck-cutting slide, with kickin' bass and drums. If there's such a thing as twenty-four-hour pentecostal metal party blues...this is it. A solid blue-hot revival of hard, dirty old blues done Husky Burnette-style! Say Amen, somebody!

Husky'll be hitting the road soon so pay attention. Meanwhile, pick up Ain't Nothin' But A Revival.

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