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Shockabilly

August 10, 2006

Colosseum
Rough Trade

Contemporaneous detractors aside, Shockabilly were one of the great unsung heroes of the ugly, atonal eighties. They beat the Butthole Surfers to the windowpane-acid spiked punch bowl and could out-goon the Cramps on any day.
Actually, most critics of the band seemed to center on guitar molester Eugene Chadbourne’s Muppet-on-DMT vocal stylizations, which is understandable and difficult to defend. But in today’s musical pantheon, he doesn’t sound all that out of place say next to Les Claypool, nor do they sound as hickoid-on-bathtub crank as, say Bob Log III or countless psychobilly cats.

My favorite Shockabilly record, hands down, is Colosseum, their second full-length album.
Here they’ve edged away from country and rockabilly (save a hilarious take on Roger Miller’s Dang Me) and move straight into psychedelic rock and retardo sludge.
The semi-autobiographical The Secret of the Cooler is one of the most beautiful ugly songs I’ve ever heard. The album also features more original songs by both Chadbourne and Kramer than on their debut EP and subsequent album. A Chadbourne original, Hattisburg Miss. is one of the straightest things this trio has ever committed to vinyl. Eugene really cuts loose on a version of the Byrd’s Eight Miles High with a fat, overdriven solo which at times sounds like Robert Fripp channeling the late, great Sonny Sharrock.
Sadly, Eugene Chadbourne claims Shockabilly was one of his least favorite projects and Kramer has apparently desecrated the mixes on subsequent reissues of the Shockabilly catalog he put out on his Shimmy-Disc label.

Secret of the Cooler

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2 comments

  1. Wonderful!
    The Chadbourne stone, initiated by the Dorfdisco, is rolling! Haven’t heard a entire Shockabilly record, I’m happy you share them.
    More things to come – but 1st I have to give these gems a listen.
    Thanks a lot!!!


  2. Shockabilly was my introduction to the good doctor.
    Thanks for contributing to this Chadfest!



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