BR5-49’s debut, six songs over 10 tracks and 23 minutes, is a frenetically-paced, raucous concert that runs the gamut from rockabilly to ballads but mostly serves to cement the band as a force to be reckoned with. BR5-49 made country cool again, not by alt-ifying it or being renegades, but simply by being young men embracing all the genre’s best, pure elements. With instrumentation including a stand-up bass and fiddle to subject matter that celebrates being a hillbilly and subject matter that explores porn from the perspectives of both the entertainer and entertained and lampoons The Andy Griffith Show with a hypothetical episode involving explicit sex and drugs, BR5-49 announced they were here by letting us know their talent was varied and nothing was off-limits. It’s amazing how much ground they cover, and how well they do it, in just six songs.
I’m struck as I come back to this at how dark it is. You’ve got “Bettie Bettie” (porn) and “Me ‘N’ Opie” (Andy Griffith), and then there’s also two tales of murder in “18 Wheels & A Crowbar,” which is road-rage-cum-serial-murder and “Knoxville Girl,” a darkly mysterious standard in which the narrator kills “the girl he loves so well” in cold blood.
Part of me wants to keep this as three-and-a-half clowns. I’m not sure why that is. It might be because it’s just an EP, or it may be because if I want to listen to BR5-49 I reach for their better but still flawed self-titled album that followed this one. But neither of those is really an inherent criticism, so four clowns it is.
Keep: “Hillbilly Thang,” “18 Wheels And A Crowbar”
Like: “Bettie Bettie,” “Me N’ Opie (Down By The Duck Pond),” “Knoxville Girl,” “Ole Slewfoot”
Filed Between: David Bowie (Ziggy Stardust) and BR5-49’s BR5-49
- Boot Plug –
- Hillbilly Thang –
- 18 Wheels And A Crowbar –
- Bettie Plug –
- Bettie Bettie –
- Me N’ Opie (Down By The Duck Pond) –
- Tip Plug –
- Knoxville Girl – It kills to make this only like, but it’s not quite as powerful as I remember it and the lyrics are so disturbing.
- Ole Slewfoot –
- Fire Marshall –