The Legendary Shack Shakers 


The rockabilly revival has always had a cartoonish element that, despite the quality of the players, creates a sort of costume show, making the music itself easier to dismiss. So when a no-frills group like the Legendary Shack Shakers arrives, the established rockabilly and juke-joint bands get a deserved kick in the ass, reminding us what rockabilly can sound like, instead of what it should look like.

So don't look for fashion tips here: It's only brash rock 'n' roll. Opening with a warm riff from guitarist JoeBuck and concluding with vocalist Colonel J.D.'s maniacal howl, Cockadoodledon't is to rockabilly in 2003 what the Reverend Horton Heat was in the early 1990s and the Cramps were in the early 1980s. Intimately connected to the rhythm of the blues but hell-bent on destroying rockabilly's constricting boundaries and image, the Shakers' rerelease of Cockadoodledon't with another half-dozen tracks on Bloodshot is a rush and a push.

The sound relies more on the hillbilly roots of rockabilly than the predominant "rock" tone that contemporary rockabilly acts such as the Amazing Crowns, Blazing Haley, and the Atomic Men follow. Mark "the Duke" Robertson's doghouse bass playing and Pauly Simmonz' drumming provide easy, staggered shuffles and bluesy stomps, while JoeBuck's subtle, sparse guitar playing reveals him as a learned disciple of Ennio Morricone and Link Wray. In between spitting out verses, Colonel J.D. blows harp, bleeding his harmonica with tones dripping fat and juicy as a Kansas City BBQ.

If Tom Waits (post-Island Records), Southern Culture on the Skids, and the brain trust behind Ren and Stimpy holed up in Johnny Cash's county cabin with an ample supply of beef jerky, moonshine, and chocolate frosted mini-donuts, it might sound like Cockadoodledon't -- wild, irreverent, and urgent, a feat not often achieved among rockabilly and blues acts pigeonholed into nostalgia.


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