After 15 years together, this album is kind of a best of or more of a collection of Mudlow's highlights that most of us -myself included - missed totally first time round. I may have heard the odd song over the years but, damn, how did I miss this lot?
The opener Down In the Snow sounds like they've tried to get the band back together for one more Blues Brothers album only they got someone who can sing more like Paul-Ronney Angel meets James Leg. This is music to be heard while cruising downtown in your Caddy with the windows rolled down on the mean streets of the band's native Brighton rather than Chicago where you'd expect them to hail from.
Drunken Turkey sounds like Tom Waits is drinking in The Lanes, horrified at how gentrified it is. He wants to down the entire bottle of Turkey to get over the horrors. It's stripped back drunken blues wailing.
Damn Your Eyes is a dark, sax-led blues tale of bad goings on that should be soundtracking some crime drama as it comes to a messy denouement. The Jester sounds like the sort of thing Tav Falco plays as a Tango or waltz. The rather serious-sounding song unfolds and as the nice and sparse guitar solo arrives, it has finally struck me Mudlow's vocals are similar to Angry Johnnie and the Killbillies: another band exploring a similar side of the blues.
Stubb's Yard is a more down-home on the farm kind of blues with a bit of a jaunty riff running through it with more of an RL Burnside feel. Snowhill Farm slows things right down and is baically an acoustic 'my woman's done gone left me and I'm in pain drowning in pity in the middle of the night' blues.
Crackling keeps the stripped back feel but the drums make it feel a lot livelier even as he bares his soul after she's left him in a hail of anger and vandalising his car and other sins a departing lover might indulge in.
So Long Lee is back to the full-on in your face blues as the story of poor old Lee unfolds amid some honking harmonica-led blues as he goes down to that holy water to remind me of a Guitar Shorty song.
Minnesota Snow is the opposite of the classic Minnesota Strip as they drive carefully through the Minnesota winter. This is slow carefully picked, laid-back rural blues song with some cool lazy violin and guitar that's perfect for Woody Harrelson to mumble over in a dark detective tale.
Codename:Toad is a rooting and tooting blues descendant of Mohair Sam filtered through some hard boiled noir fiction of the sort where having the codename toad is not a good thing. It ends up somewhere cruising through a swamp similar to the one the North Mississippi Allstars crawled out of.
Evol has nothing to do with Sonic Youth and more in common with Jnr Kimbrough as the dark tale unfolds by the back door and the song builds to the point that the sax just had to come in to help brings things back down and get them back from the brink. Can anything save them?
Letter To Louise tips an obvious nod or two to Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee although this is a very different Louise to the one they sang about. Having said that, she is still driving men nuts enough to make them want to shoot her down.
Mad Mary Lou is back again. What is it about women called Mary Lou why are they always mad? Well in this rural blues tale she just doesn't care no matter how much we might have our eyes on her. Yes, we will she go into the woods to have some beer with you but who will come back in one piece? You or Mary Lou? Buy the album and find out why they've run out of roses in that cemetery.
Yes they went and wrote yet another song about Good Whiskey as can you have too many is like asking can you have too many bottles of single malt. In this case it's a slow raspy 12 year old single malt with a peaty aftertaste like a Clynelish.
Bad Hand is certainly worse than having a Mojo Hand and is not about playing poker, although poking might have caused some of the problems it's suffering from with this slow paced intricate blues.
Caz does some bad things in her dad's car in that slow blues. It's got an almost Black Snake Moan sort of feel as the vocals get more and more impassioned as the story unfolds. This is full-on, despairing of everything except making a great song.
Red Ribbon is what you should be wrapping all the copies you give to friends of this album as well as providing the closing song. It opens with some neo-Spanish guitar before the song slowly comes to life and the dark tale of death and despair unfolds in a way that makes for a perfect end to this album.
If, like me, you've never heard Mudlow before, this compilation is a perfect place to start before you have to go and find the first two albums and three EPs that these beauties are compiled from.
Find out more and buy a copy from:
Mudlow at Stag-O-Lee Shop
Mudlow Facebook Page