Freshly back from a major-label foray that went exactly nowhere, what else could Robbie Fulks title his latest effort but "The Very Best Of...?" The very opposite of that record-industry cash cow, this collection of the new, the unreleased and the hard-to-find includes pedal steel-driven honky tonkers like "May the Best Man Win" and "Parallel Bars" (a killer duet with Kelly Willis), movie music and an outtake from Fulks' flatpicking Special Consensus days.
There's amoratory estimations ("Love Ain't Nothin'"), warnings ("You Break It - You Pay") and demands ("Sleeping on the Job of Love"). True to form, Fulks also throws several wet kisses - to a classic movie star ("Jean Arthur," a bookend of sorts to "She Took A Lot of Pills And Died") to Susanna Hoffs (the pop dream "That Bangle Girl") and to the retro-fixated (the scathing "Roots Rock Weirdoes"). And what Fulks album would be complete without at least one song calculated to offend? This time the winning candidate is "White Man's Bourbon," a song in the fine tradition of "amour exotique," according to Fulks.
Framed by a personal note to the listener, fake track attributions, and comments on each selection that combine the hilarious, the acidic, and the slightly bitter, this may not be the best of, but it is very much vintage Robbie Fulks.