R.L. Burnside – Melody Maker: A Ass Pocket of Whiskey [Review] (PRESS, UK)

June 1996 Melody Maker
R.L. Burnside - Melody Maker: A Ass Pocket of Whiskey (PRESS, UK)
Review of A Ass Pocket of Whiskey by R.L. Burnside from the UK magazine Melody Maker by Sharon O’Connell.
“R L Burnside
A Ass Pocket of Whiskey
Matador (10 tks/42 mins)

IDEAS pool running perilously close to dry? Zeitgeist moving so damned fast it’s left you standing? No matter, you can always top up that talent tank or score some cred points by rubbing shoulders with whichever venerable elder statesment of your genre is willing to lend a hand.

Thus, US roped in BB King when they decied to reinvent themselves as tootsy R’n’B concern around “Rattle And Hum”, but there’s nothing so remotely sucky going on here. This scruffy, low-down and dirty dip into delta blues is a mutually respectgul collaboration – between sixtysomething self-taught guitarist R L Burnside and The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion rather than a cynical conscription, and the result is a basic, bass-less, beautifully badassed boogie that slides as easily from player to player as shit off a shovel.

No suprises here, but plenty of treats: Jon Spencer’s cochlea-piercing yelp at the close of “Snake Drive”; the humours hustlers’ exchange between Spencer and Burnside in “The Criminal Inside Me”; the murderous but casual urgency that drives “Goin’ Down South”; the filthy distorted guitar that sets “Poor Boy” simmering. All with a bare-boards roughness and whisket rasp that sounds like it’s raised the roof at a hundred raucous rent parties.

“A Ass Pocket Of Whiskey” is the sound of twin souls effortlessly chewing the fat. It f***ing cooks.

Sharon O’Connell”