|It’s Not Enough
|Make Things Happen
|Where The Mighty Fall
|Jamaican Radio Obituary
|Walking On Hell’s Roof Looking At The Flowers
|Where In The World
|When I Get My Rewards
|Nothing To Say
|Dragging My Own Tombstone
Alan Doughty Bass
Lil‘ Willy Goulding Drums
Mark Durante Steel Guitar, Baritone Guita
rDean Schlabowske Vocals, Guitar
The Waco Brothers Written-By
(From Daryl Walsh who posted it to a bloodshot mailing list)
Waco Brothers new disc, Electric Waco Chair, is exceptional. The band left out the horns and, for the most part, keys on this one and created a collection of distinct songs only occasionally reminiscent of anything they’ve done in the past. There are no ‘See Willy Fly By’ or ‘Cowboy in Flames’ punk-country songs on this one–a mellower feel over all. Produced by Ken Sluiter (producer for many Chicago bands, including the Mekons) the songs all sound polished without sounding over-produced. Heard the Waco’s perform several of these songs live at goose fest (and even more during the waco’s 2nd set saturday inside the pub) andwhile they struck me as different from the rest of the waco’s songs, they make the live show that much more interesting.
1. It’s Not Enough (Langford vocals)
– a festive song, straight from the islands. Would fit well on the Mekons’ last release. The band played this one during the early set at goose fest and again at night inside the pub. “I’ll be trying to change the channel/As my life goes flashing by”
2. Make Things Happen (Deano)
– bouncy, upbeat song (yeah, odd words to describe a waco’s song);for some reason, evokes images of BJ and the Bear. great tune. also performed during goose fest.
3. Mighty Fall (Langford)
– slow, deliberate tennessee waltz pace to this song. sounds like a Sally song (maybe similar to something off of John and Sally’s summer release?).
4. Jamaican Radio Obituary (Deano)
– john rice’s fiddle all over this mid-tempo song gives it a loozyanna flavor. one of the best on the disc.
5. Walking on Hell’s Roof Looking At the Flowers (Langford)
– this one starts with just John singing Billy-Bragg-like over a guitar and then the band kicks in and the song takes off into a Sovines-meet-the- Clash lorry-stop special.
6. Cornered (Tracy Dear)
– Breezy, latin flavored song with desperado lyrics, makes you wanna dance.
7. Where in the World (Deano)
– crunchy,driving verses juxtaposed against a soaring, sing-along chorus.
8. When I Get My Rewards (Langford)
wacos version of an oft-covered Paul Kennerly tune.
9. Circle Tour — (Deano)
second song on this disc to reference Grand Rapids (not sure if the reference to Grand Rapids in Jamaican Radio Obit is in reference to Minn or Mich) this song’s explictily about Michigan… a train like backbeat behind the most interesting, sparse music on the disc ( with Kelly Hogan on backing vocals).
10. Nothing to Say (Langford)
– Plenty Tuff Union Made, Pt II (and yet it sounds a little like a john mellencamp song).
11. Fox River (Deano)
– Jagger vocals over Keith Richards guitar and an organ in the background.
12. Dragging My Own Tombstone (Langford)
– Mekons flavored song about working too much for too little.
13. Never Real (Deano)
— laconic song about drinking and moving on…perfect closer.
i’ve included some of the above tracks in the following myplay mix:
to listen, cut and paste the entire url into your browser’s address field. it ends with a ‘1′
DMCA rules restrict how these mixes are made (e.g, no more than 3 songs from an album per 3 hours, mix has to be at least 5 hours, no consecutive songs by the same artist, yadda, yadda, yadda) so the waco’s songs are at the following points in the mix:
mix-track 4 ‘It’s Not Enough’ (track 1 on the cd)
track 6: ‘Make Things Happen’
track 9: ‘Walking on Hell’s Roof Looking at the Flowers’
there’s a couple more Electric Waco Chair songs near the end of the mix (when the myplay filter was satisfied that they were far enough away from the above 3 songs.)
Assorted selections from others artists buffer the waco’s tracks.
Greil Marcus: On the “Salon” website:
It seems certain now that on record the self-proclaimed Last Dead Cowboys will never get close to their live sound, where a vehemence that seems to come out of the ground is summoned to overwhelm any mere songs, and so burns the songs into your heart. On record they’re closer to the ’70s English country band Brinsley Schwarz, which is nothing to be sorry about, unless you want to judge all those you find wanting, which dead cowboys tend to do. Here the vocals alternating between Jon Langford and Dean Schlabowske produce the sense of a conversation between friends who see the world in the same way and feel everything differently. Defeat is the primary condition of their lives, but while for Langford defeat is the only condition of life he trusts, and so in a way he loves it, can trust himself only when he’s looking up from the bottom, Schlabowske will never be at home in his misery, even if he’s never lived anywhere else. He’s Hank Williams, still singing about hope long after he should have learned it’ll never knock; Langford is Williams’ biographer, saying all those things Williams could never say out loud. CDNOW:
Take six Chicago-based British and American punk/industrial veterans and force-feed them Hank Williams and Johnny Cash, and you get the Waco Brothers. Known for their rabble-rousing live shows, until now the Wacos, fueled by who knows how many cases of beer, appeared to record their albums in a single day. Electric Waco Chair their fifth release, sounds like the band finally decided to make an album that stands up to repeated listening, and they’ve more than succeeded. The 13 tracks range from classic rants by Waco/Mekons frontman Jon Langford to Dean Schlabowske’s laconic alt-country offerings. “History’s written by the winner / This is a loser’s song,” Langford sings on “Walking on Hell’s Roof Looking at the Flowers,” whose title pretty much sums up the Wacos scorched-earth lyrical attitude.
But the faint of heart should fear not: Jangly, radio-friendly tunes, such as “Make Things Happen” and “It’s Not Enough,” add balance to the bluster, making for a truly satisfying listen.
CDNOW Contributing Writer
Call it electric waco slippers:
As The Waco Brothers mature into a real band rather than just another of Jon Langford’s many side projects, Dean Schlabowske and Tracy Dear have tried to carry a greater amount of the songwriting weight, and their sound has taken on a more individual personality, rather than the “Mekons-with-a-twang-and-faster-tempos” sound of their debut. This didn’t work out so well on 1999’s Waco World, a somewhat muddled set that lacked the fire and focus of the group’s best work, but Electric Waco Chair finds the Wacos firmly back on track; Schlabowske and Dear are learning to deliver material just as strong as Langford’s always top-shelf work (especially “Jamaican Radio Obituary” and “Fox River”), and the band sounds tighter, stronger, and more expressive than ever before (the three live cuts also testify to the Wacos undeniable strength on stage). If Electric Waco Chair offers a bit less pure fury than the Waco Brothers’ high-water mark, Cowboy in Flames, from a musical standpoint it finds this band sounding better than ever before, and their rabble-rousing anger is still very much in evidence if you’re looking for it; the Waco Brothers are one of the very best bands to emerge from the alt-country scene, and this album proves they’re only getting better with time.
~ Mark Deming
From DAA: Dancing about architecture:
Alt-country. I mean, what the hell does that mean? Here in Chicago, it’s thrown around with almost the same regularity as terms like “wind chill” and “political corruption.” But the latter, at least, defines something — say, when your alderman pockets a five-figure bribe in exchange for a cherry city contract. On the other hand, alt-country could be practically anything — Chuck Berry, Meatloaf, Pere Ubu, Liberace, At the Drive-In, Yanni — you name it. Anything that sounds like it wouldn’t have made the soundtrack of Coal Miner’s Daughter. Since you won’t hear Loretta Lynn warbling “Walking on Hell’s Roof Looking at the Flowers” or “Make Things Happen,” call the Waco Brothers alt-country, I guess. But also recognize that this, their fifth and best long-player, is where the shtick finally hits the fan as Dean Schlabowski shoves Jon Langford toward the sometime-Mekon’s best rock and roll since The Mekons Rock ‘N’ Roll. Not that they’ve outgrown honky-tonkin’; you’ll find snatches here and there of the twang that often gets them miscast as a novelty act. But Langford’s always expressed himself best over dirty guitars and a backbeat, and this time out, he’s clearly got something to say.
Rob Brookman/Tim Frommer