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Southern Culture on the Skids

Doublewide and Live – 2006 (Yep Roc)

Reviewed by Ken Burke

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CDs by Southern Culture on the Skids

Blessed with a remarkable command of grunge and twang, Southern Culture on the Skids exhibits more pure groove on this 16-song live set than any of their studio discs. Playing at a breakneck tempo, the North Carolina-based trio brilliantly blend semi-coherent psychobilly with tongue-in-cheek white trash allusions galore.

Drummer Dave Hartman, bassist/vocalist Mary Huff and lead singer and guitarist Rick Miller, achieve a full sound that makes them sound larger than they actually are. At the heart of everything is Miller's guitar work, which alternately echoes surf-master Dick Dale ("The Wet Spot," "'69 El Camino," "Meximelt"), the ominous fuzztone of Link Wray ("Mojo Box") and sly syncopation of Slim Harpo ("Ditch Diggin'"). Further, his funny, country-laced lyrics ("Whole Lotta Things," "Cheap Motels"), play out like a mythical meeting of the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band and The Cramps.

Unfortunately, some of Miller's clever wordplay gets lost due to some seriously undermiked vocals ("Liquored Up," "Doublewide"). This particularly affects Huff ("Hittin' on Nothin'"), whose thin, sassy voice can barely be heard above SCOTS powerful rhythm section ("Just How Lonely"). Admittedly, that flaw is a vital aspect of their heart-pumping, caffeinated attack, the execution of which makes this set great fun.