Legendary Shack Shakers

Take early Reverend Horton Heat, toss in a bushel of habaneros, a keg of railroad spikes, a bunker-buster bomb, a dog-eared copy of the Kama Sutra, and the minutes from a David Koresh revival meeting and you're approaching the launch pad where Nashville's Legendary Shack Shakers lift off.

These guys sound like they've been on a steady diet of musical steroids, force-fed a smorgasbord of old country blues, hypnotic boogie, rockabilly so raw it bleeds, and swamp rock that would frighten a voodoo priestess. Their atomic psychobilly album is driven by Joe Buck's guitar and Colonel J.D. Wilkes's distorted sociopathic vocal stylings. Like Southern Culture on the Skids, the Shack Shakers thrive on twisted, Dixie-fried peculiarity and spooky nuance. On the testosterone-charged trucker's short-wave swamp-boogie declaration "CB Song," Southern culture is on the slippery slope with "I'm ten-four, ten-eight, and I've got the ten-thirty-six / I wanna stick around and get my mini-skirt kicks."

The Shakers lay bluegrass on the operating table and give it an organ transplant and an injection of nuclear medicine that produces the dangerous ditty "Blood on the Bluegrass." The tense fiddle screams O Brother, What Went Wrong? Taj Mahal fans won't recognize "Bull Frog Blues" either. Buck's guitar is as reckless as a joyriding teenager with a head full of bennies and a belly full of illegal hooch, and Wilkes's harp work is aggressive to the point of asswhuppery. Their backwoods hellraiser version of Benny Joy's "Wild Wild Lover" comes straight from Horton Heat's school of aphrodisiac thrashabilly bop, complete with big Duane Eddy twang and a thumping stand-up base.

When the Shakers aren't burning down the house with mutant monster originals like "Help Me from My Brain" or the manic jump-from-the-plane-with-no-parachute "Hoptown Jailbreak," they're running classics like Slim Harpo's "Shake Your Hips" through their diesel-powered musical meat grinder, giving it a vicious flailing that touches the ecstatic edge of musical nervous breakdown.

This is an album to be played at maximum volume after the furniture has been pushed back out of harm's way, the cars have been parked down the block, everybody's keys have been locked in a safe, and you've already called the boss to let him know you won't be in tomorrow -- or maybe for the rest of the week. The jury is still out on what frequent exposure of children to Cockadoodledon't might cause in later life, but the government ain't building all those prisons for nothin'.

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William Michael Smith