Sunday, 5 July 2015

Dr Bontempi's Snake Oil Company.......A cure all for those musical blues !

My God, Got Mine !
Yeehaw !  My oh my oh off the press and hot on the heels of his last slice of genius that was 'Witches, Spiders, Frogs & Holes' comes this beautiful slab o' opting to release this fine opus through those eternal purveyors of quality 'Squoodge Records' Dr Bontempi has guaranteed an amazingly desirable obeject, containing what is probably some of the most inspired, if not exactly original, takes on Hillbilly, Country inspired Western Swing and even Blues......not to mention the inclusion of the Surf standard 'Misirlou'.
Better than The Soggy Bottom Boys !
I suppose really it's best to give it the full rundown from top to bottom....the packaging conceived by Roland & Ele at Squoodge is just simply fantastic, from the sepia toned image of The Snake Oil Company members on the front of the cover to the printed, heavy-weight die-cut inner, complete with added 'Snake Oil' (I always wondered what happened to Jagermeister empties). The vinyl is the usual quality you've come to expect from a Squoodge release, 180grm+ with the first 100 copies on red vinyl and then just 350 copies on black vinyl which means that if you are reading this after the end of July's long gone !  Side one sets the tone and kicks off with 'Franny Lee Stomp' a fiddle driven stomper with some pretty decent guitar work thrown in for good measure. Next up 'That Is Why She's Gone' is classic C&W subject matter of which no self respecting album of this genre should have missing, lovely steel/laptop work and a smattering of 'lonely cowboy' harp playing give it that authentic feel even though it's a Mr Bontempi original !  'Dixie Fried' should be familiar to most of you who bother reading this blog and if it isn't....may I suggest you go get yourself some Carl Perkins albums forthwith. 'Apache Cry' was written by Marcel & Paul Sheahan and rests firmly in that Indian lament style complete with the classic 'injun' rhythm.....Hmmm, The Doors classic, a Ouija board and someone channeling the spirit of the dearly departed Johnny Cash......this just has to be heard, Spooky !

A rather ltd edition of just 77 copies !
Much Ink has been used over the years regarding 'Misirlou'...Greek, Turk or even Egyptian in origin ? 150 years old ? probably older but frankly this is a great version with a distinctly Arabic/Flamenco(ish) feel to it and not a surfboard in sight, Adagio.....Allegro....Adagio !  Finishing up the first side is a bit of happy, hillbilly hoedown, 'Pistol Boogie'....Great stuff indeed. 
Side two starts off with a great version of the Shorty Long song 'Burned Toast & Black Coffee' with who, I'm assuming, is Ira on lead vocals....class. Bit of Bo Diddley is always welcome here and this is no different, countrified 'Who Do You Love' anyone ?  'Ghost Memories' starts out with a nod to Ennio Morricone but quickly slips into classic fiddle and steel guitar combo, nice melodies too.
'Matterhorn' evokes that kind of 'Marlboroman' cowboy image, rambles along with a rhythm you could ride a horse to, although it's about the perils of mountain climbing !
The next track is Warren Smith's brilliant 'Uranium Rock' probably better known to a lot of you as being covered by The Cramps, The Snake Oil Co tear this up and put a hillbilly spin on it making actually closer to the original than later versions.
I'm a little confused about 'Working Girl' is it about the fact that his girlfriend has a job or that she is a 'working girl' ?  either way, great song and the album comes to a close with 'All I Can Do Is Cry' showcasing what a great vocalist Marcel is. This is one hell of an album and the strange thing about it is that you don't even have to appreciate country styled music, per se, to like it.....Weird that !  A way cool album, superbely packaged and full of surprises......AWESOME.


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