Ray Wylie Hubbard - Grifter's Hymnal (Music CD)

Release Date: 30 April 2012
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Few performers are as hungry and driven as Ray Wylie Hubbard; at 65, he's writing, recording, performing, producing, touring, and scoring movies on his terms, and doesn't give a damn if you don't get it. His D.I.Y. aesthetic would make a punk rocker proud: he owns his own publishing company, his wife Judy is his manager and president of his label, and his 18-year-old guitar-slinging son Lucas plays lead in his road band. For the past decade, Hubbard's distilled his sound to its essences. The Grifter's Hymnal, co-produced by Hubbard and George Reiff, is an organic follow-up to 2010's A: Enlightenment B: Endarkenment (Hint: There Is No C), but it's wilder, nastier, and swampier. All of Hubbard's lyric trademarks are intact as he observes the intersecting worlds he lives in simultaneously -- cultural, spiritual and carnal, past and present -- his poignant observations balanced by a wicked sense of humor. But it's the sound of Grifter's Hymnal that grabs the listener by the throat. (Their approach has more in common with Jack White's than T-Bone Burnett's.) They capture the raw experience of music-making in the moment. "Coricidin Bottle" threatens to derail from the jump, a burning electric solo by Lucas and careening kick drums and floor toms by Rick Richards push it into the red. Ian McLagan's piano fills out the punchy, electric guitar strut on "South of the River." "Lazarus" (one of five songs with no bass) is populated by ramped-up, nearly distorted acoustic slide, handclaps, drums, and bird feeder (!) by Richards. Hubbard's grizzled delivery keenly observes America's contradictions before razoring in on gratitude, stating with deadpan certainty: "At least we ain't Lazarus/who had to think twice about dyin'." The burning rocker "New Year's Eve at the Gates of Hell," is bitingly funny; yet it asks deep questions about the very nature and source of good and evil. Audley Freed's electric guitar duels with Hubbard's slide, Richards' kick drum, and Reiff's bass. Its grit hits with chaotic force, like it was recorded live. "Train Yard," written with Liz Foster of the Trishas, is a dirty-ass sexual love song. Ringo Starr's "Coochy Coochy" features the Beatle on backing vocals and percussion. Loose, swampy rock fuels "Mother Blues" (named for about the legendary Dallas club); it's part autobiography, part cultural history, and part reverie; but it's all lyric gold. Hubbard makes it nearly cinematic without being wordy. "Ask God" evokes the spirit of Lonnie Johnson in its spooky, minor-key gospel blues. The Grifter's Hymnal is truly inspired. It's a swaggering, sexy, shake-your-ass, greasy, deep roots record. It pursues the same mercurial muse that bit everyone from Chuck Berry, Muddy Waters, and Howlin' Wolf to the White Stripes and the Black Keys, down alleys, through bars, in cars, across history, myth, and space. Hubbard and company have captured it alive and kicking here. Play it loud. ~ Thom Jurek
Release Date: 30 April 2012

1. Coricidin Bottle
2. South of the River
3. Lazarus
4. New Year's Eve at the Gates of Hell
5. Moss and Flowers
6. Red Badge of Courage
7. Train Yard
8. Coochy Coochy
9. Mother Blues
10. Henhouse
11. Count My Blessings
12. Ask God

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Catalogue No: BOR12003