Friday, January 1, 2010

P -Tav Falco's Panther Burns - "Behind the Magnolia Curtain"

You know, I love sloppy, half-assed rockabilly played by what sounds like 12 year olds churning out a gurgling mess that can only be charitably called "music" using the most broad definition of the term as much as the next guy, but, really, this is too much.

Panther Burns is a vanity project fronted by rockabilly devotee Tav Falco, who gathers whatever Memphis buddies he can wake up to back him as he hoots, hollers, and whoops his way through some obscure covers and a few derivative originals. His most notable co-hort has been ex-Box Top/Big Star frontman Alex Chilton: these recordings give him a chance to play guitar (occasionally drums) without having to expend any effort into creativity, originality, or listenability.

You can sense that the other instrumentalists on this 1981 debut record (Falco, Gun Club's drummer Jim Duckworth, & bassist Ron Miller) shared Chilton's deprivation of quality, as this is one piss-poor record. Proudly stating "all tracks recorded one-take", this might have been a fun listen if there was some kind of inspiration to make up for the lack of everything else, but, sadly, that's AWOL too.

It's interesting to compare this crap to Chilton's own home grown Memphis stew "Like Flies on Sherbet" recorded only a year earlier. Chilton's record is just as sloppy (perhaps even more so), & has the same Sun-style production (& also sounds like the band is made up of drunken teenagers) but there's a sense of abandon & joy in the 150 proof recordings. On top of that, the songs are catchy & memorable; enough so that even if they are ruined by questionable execution, at least they're still good songs. Even after listening to "Behind the Magnolia Curtain" twice (the anguish I put myself through for this blog that nobody reads, I tell ya...), only two songs stand out: "She's the One that Got It" has a dynamic call & response chorus, with Tav actually showing some kind of character in his voice, and RL Burnside's instrumental "Snake Drive" (honestly, even though it's his project, the less Falco, the better.) The rest of the covers, though written by some heavy hitters (Johnny Burnette, Jimmy Reed, Muddy Waters, Junior Wells, Leadbelly, Roy Orbison), just can't overcome the musical atrocities that are perpetuated against them.

VERDICT: crawl back into the swamp until you learn how to play, kids.
VIDEO: wow, this is a terrible version of a good song. And this is after SEVEN years of improvement??? Yipes.


  1. Boooo. Behing the Magnolia Curtain is GREAT. Everythign else Tav has done is crap, but this album is great.

  2. You people are out of your minds!

  3. haha. well, listen to rush and pink floyd then.
    this is one of the greatest l.p.s of the 80's in my opinion. maybe you just dont like rock and roll?
    i can see how to someone that maybe listens to "normal people music" this probably does sound like garbage. It was in the 80s when I first heard this and yes, everyone I knew said it was garbage. they also told me that the cramps, the ramones, and everything else I liked was garbage. they were wrong and they are still wrong. 25 years later. I still love this album and dire straits and tom petty still sound horrible to me so there you go, its all just a matter of taste.
    Matt Pendleton
    matt pendleton

  4. indeed, i DO like rock and roll. i even like crap rock and roll. but this record is just crap. lazy lazy crap. "Moving Pictures", "Dark Side of the Moon" & "Damn the Torpedos" all blow this thing away. heck, even "Ummagumma (the live LP only)" is way better. The difference between Tav & the Cramps & Ramones is that the latter bands recorded some amazing records that looked back with affection & looked forward with energy. "Behind the Magnolia Curtain" just lays about in the muck. that said, it is just a matter of taste (or in billy joel's case, a matter of trust, but screw him.)

  5. Why waste your and everyone elses time with a lame post like this? by your own admission you listened to it twice, twice!!! and relegated it to Rubbish status! ive been listening to this Record for 15 years now, and yes its personal taste, consider it a Classic , if you dig the real Punk-Soul-Rockabilly Blues, then you have totally,and i mean absolutely MISSED the Point. Write about something you know and listened to more than twice, before spouting off such lame ass ill informed ,Garbage.

  6. why waste your time writing a lame response? because i've offended your pop-rock sensibility. i guess since i've mistaken this classic for chum, i only dig faux punk-soul-rockabilly blues, whatever THAT is. i'd rather listen to Kenny Rogers than have to listen to this again. so settle down there, skippy.

  7. This LP contains passages of sloppy brilliance. The cover of Huddie's 'Bourgeois Blues' is superb, the cover of Burnside's 'Snake Drive' likelwise. And it features Jessie Mae Hemphill in the drum corp (uncredited), granddaughter of Sid Hemphill. Can't be bad. And by the way, Duckworth never manned the drums in Gun Club but played guitar and not for long. Always useful to know what you're writing about, i find.

  8. This is one of the great records of the 80's. The entire Memphis scene was sadly ignored. I was fortunate enough to see these guys in and around Memphis, and a few years later (with a diferent line up)in Chicago. I have listened to this record 1000's of times since '82 and it sounds as original now as it did the first time I heard it in my dorm roon in Oxford Mississippi. If you don't like it no biggie, but maybe you should give it another try.

  9. well said, anonymus!!