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.