Beer-chuggin’, pill-poppin’, speed-snortin’ punk rock ‘n’ roll reprobates the Supersuckers have been making a spectacle of themselves since 1988, touring with anyone and everyone from Social Distortion to Motorhead with their main man Eddie Spaghetti dispensing his beautifully deft gutter poetry all that time. Now if you’ve only picked up the odd song or caught the odd gig then you may be only vaguely aware that there had always been a southern rock/country twang at their core but missed that since their 1997 album ‘Must’ve Been High’ they have occasionally ventured into the country with both feet both live and on record. Holdin’ The Bag is a country album. Yep. Ave Noctum. Country.
Whoa! Hold on there, hoss! Quit that slinking away willya and deal with it? Listen. This sounds exactly like the Supersuckers, still; those slightly cynical world weary tones, the same excellent, sharp and often poignant lyrics often delivered like a man trying hard not to care but feeling everything deeply. Just that the flat bed hot rod pickup truck rattler is parked up and the guys are chillin’ on the porch today.
Son, this is just about the songs, and the songs are gems. The title track kicks us off with a little advice dispensed through the lonesome blues harp and a bit of banjo picking which sets a hot, dusty scene. Honestly it’s wonderful; perfectly pitched words, a little swing to the tune, a need to crack open a cold one and ponder on life. ‘This Life… With You’ (“… And this beer would taste a whole lot better if I didn’t have to drink it with you… “) follows up with a slice of bouncy bitterness that may (or may not) be able to be read with a metaphorical eye on Eddie’s recent health problems (yeah, fuck you cancer). ‘High And Outside’ has an Eagles lilt to the guitar (fuck, another one) and a melancholy to the melody and voice that Supersuckers do so damn well. ‘Man On A Mission’ has that low slung cowboy picked guitar and Chris Isaak’s eerie twang.
If you got this far; cowboy western blues, country bitterness, Eagles melancholy, then you’ll be fine. It may not be Ave Noctum’s usual fare, but the band are and this album, with fine duets like ‘I Can’t Cry ‘ (featuring Lydia Loveless) or the lip-smacking, tobacco spitting, grin splitting ‘Let’s Bounce’ (which I swear I thought was going to break into ‘Sweet Home Alabama ‘) is so worthy of a place on your chill out list. Advice gets dispensed (‘That’s How It Gets Done’), put-downs boogie on out (‘Jibber-Jabber’), life attitudes get explained (‘I Do What I Can’) and they ‘Shimmy And Shake’.
I guess a little special mention, particularly at my age, must be given to the piano and steel guitar lament of ‘All My Rowdy Friends’ (have settled down) with its namecheck for Lemmy (fuck you again, cancer) taking in even greater poignancy with his sudden passing, in this tale of creeping old age, wild days and wisdom.
Depending on the version you get you also get the bonus tracks of the the rattling ‘Georgia On A Fast Train’ (EU version) and the wonderful ‘Loaded’ (vinyl) which sounds like Steve Earl and The Pogues on a drunken stomp.
Maybe that’s it. Maybe the fact that yes, it’s country rock, but it’s not pristine cowboy hats and rhinestone boot shit. This is battered straw hat, dusty sleeveless workshirt, scuffed old boots country. Steve Earl in his bad old Copperhead Road ways, Skynyrd in their laid back Southern Man chairs, Supersuckers in the sun. Prickly as a cactus and twice as sharp. The last year or two ain’t been so good for their main guy so pull up a stool, crack a beer and listen, just listen. You can pull off your prejudices and leave them over there by the door, son; when the Supersuckers play then you’d be best jus’ payin’ some attention. As Lemmy himself said: “If you don’t like Supersuckers, you don’t like rock ‘n’ roll… ”
And once more with feeling: Fuck. You. Cancer.