Robbie Fulks: Revenge! (Yep Roc) BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2007

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Robbie Fulks: Believe
Robbie Fulks: Revenge! (Yep Roc) BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2007

The witty and iconoclastic Fulks has a marvellous distain for convention, the country music establishment (he wrote Fuck This Town about Nashville), and record sales.

He also unleashed the sometimes terrific but scattergun Georgia Hard two years ago on which he released his inner George Jones to great effect -- but also included his component of yuk-yuk material as if wanting to challenge Ray Stevens or Roger Miller in the comedic stakes.

This double disc of live takes -- one disc billed as Standing with the big heel stompin' band, the other Sitting which is him solo, acoustic or in a small band setting -- runs much the same wayward path and opens with a little jokey piece We're On The Road in which he takes an imaginary call from the head of his record company asking for a fast, cheap album which might serve as a stockfiller or loss-leader: what follows is supposed to be it.

Get past the jokes however (although his solo take on Cher's Believe is spot-on, impressive and gently hilarious) and Fulks is pretty damn good: he and the band kick hard on the first disc when necessary and he pulls out some fine playing on the second. He mocks death and revenge ballads (The Buck Starts Here which refers to others who worked the genre, Buck, Hank etc) but it also comes out straight and a homage; he has a classic honky-tonk voice; and because he hates live albums as rip-offs for fans he includes a number of previously unreleased songs.

He also does a nice line in slight cynicism which recalls Loudon Wainwright.

Fulks will always be an outsider and finds humour in that too, so if you like your country with a wee touch of satire he is definitely your man, and the more you know about country the more humour you will find.

And you thought only Kinky Friedman would have a track with the title Fake Jews Everywhere?

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