Thursday, November 12, 2009

Blackfoot - Greatest Hits (Flashback, 2002)


Durabrand DVD players are pieces of trash. Even Fred Sanford wouldn't treasure them. The only reason I owned one in the first place was to access the 75 or so albums in my collection contained on the MP3 format. Music placed in the silver machine was readable, but many CDs had more pops and skips than the cast of Rice Krispies in a Double Dutch competition. Playing movies? Uh, hope you didn't have your popcorn ready. Less than three months from the box, the Durabrand rejected all of my film choices. Damn, I thought The Virginian-Pilot's Mal Vincent was a tough critic. In retrospect, I do agree with the player's coded hiss that said the Michael Jackson-like dance number at the end of "Slumdog Millionaire" cheapened an otherwise great picture. With the announcement from Wal-Mart recalling almost two million DVD players due to overheated circuit boards, the Durabrand's days of sucking down Junior Mints and taking notations in darkened theaters met their closing credits. Ushering the defective device to customer service, I took the $32 gift card and headed for the music section. My goal was to walk out of Wally World with five CDs. Molly Hatchet's classic debut for a fiver? Hell yeah, bounty hunter! Nuge's Free-For-All at the same price? No doubt, I'm whippin' it out! ZZ Top's Tres Hombres for siete dolares? Muchas gracias, Precious and Grace! The Fireman's Electric Arguments for nine bucks? Plug me in, Paul! The remaining coin was spent on a budget title that has enhanced my interest in a band I've always admired from a distance. Thank you, Durabrand, for closing the gap.

Blackfoot's core lineup of Rickey Medlocke (vocals, guitar), Charlie Hargrett (guitar), Greg T. Walker (bass) and Jakson Spires (drums) called the Southern rock mecca of Jacksonville, Florida home. Early efforts No Reservations (1975) and Flyin' High (1976) drew favorable comparisons to hometown buds Lynyrd Skynyrd (Medlocke and Walker had been in a nascent version of the band), but positive black ink in the magazines couldn't keep album sales from being red at the register. In 1979, Blackfoot released Strikes and finally landed a right hand with mainstream success. A pair of singles culled from the collection would yield the two cuts most identified with Medlocke and company. Per lyrics discussing the totality as a wandering musician ("Oh, it's my way of living and I can't change a thing") who copes with the hurt of a loved one left behind, "Highway Song" proved irresistible to devotees of Skynyrd's most enduring anthem. Reaching #26 on the Pop chart, Blackfoot captured a "Free Bird" of their very own, replete with equally chirpy guitar work. Ever wondered what it would be like to have a jam session with your grandfather? Well, Rickey Medlocke turned the trick on the follow-up hit "Train, Train." By penning the prose of a drifter who admits he's not good enough for his woman ("Get yourself a money man!") and blowing introductory harp with the force of a steaming locomotive, grandpa Shorty Medlocke was enthusiastically welcomed as guest conductor. Like ZZ Top's "Tush" and "La Grange," the heavy-for-the-genre guitar behavior garnered many ticket purchases from headbangers waiting in the station's lobby. Enough passengers boarded "Train, Train" to arrive at another destination in the Top 40. Would there be another stop?

Despite the derailment of the band's engine en route to Casey Kasem and Rick Dees' loaded terminals, the remaining cars on a track called Blackfoot's Greatest Hits are equally stocked with pretty ladies and powerful libations. If you like what bartender Bob Seger has been dispensing into your glasses all these years but wish he'd lay off the seltzer water as a pitcher topper, forgo the Silver Bullet and ask him to "Gimme, Gimme, Gimme" a shot of the hard stuff. Medlocke and Hargrett's aggressive axework turns the page on mellow and puzzles the patrons who want that old-time rock 'n' roll. When Rickey bellows the "Ain't got no money to buy me a beer" portion of the refrain, some straggler in a ZZ tee cracks open the tip jar and hands over the dough. Whatcha got to say 'bout it, Mr. Businessman? Seger's bites can also be felt on "Rattlesnake Rock 'N' Roller." While the GPS in his Chevy Tahoe points to the direction of Katmandu, Shorty Medlocke's brief banjo intro sticks its thumbtack on a map of Campbell County. Bob might work in a climb of Mount Everest during his vacay, but the boys in Blackfoot have simpler plans ("Well I'm a-headin' for the country/With the stars shinin' up above/Gonna do me some fishin'/Instead of just a-wishin' I was"). The thick-thighed chaquitas from Mexico who are "Too Hard To Handle" can be every bit as bawdy as Mountain's "Mississippi Queen." Choose to ignore the similarly sly precautions of AC/DC's "The Jack," and you could bring home a nasty souvenir ("Small time gambler lays down his money/To play some five-card stud/But the big time winner really was the loser/He caught a case of an unlucky love"). Lend me a few pennies for the jukebox, and I'll happily let Blackfoot throw them into Free's "Wishing Well." Medlocke's rich voice puts him in good stead with original throat Paul Rodgers. Quite possibly the only tune covered by both 'Foot AND The Mission U.K. Wait, did Rickey tackle Neil Young's "Like A Hurricane"? I'd sure as hell like to hear the result.

Uh-oh, my Durabrand TV set's on the fritz. I'm already planning my list for the next gift card. Any suggestions?
-Gunther 8544

17 comments:

Rutledge said...

I oughta review something southern rock one of these days. I'm thinking .38 Special most likely.

gunther said...

Good choice. Might do the deluxe edition of Hatchet's Flirtin' With Disaster. Dunno which Skynyrd disc I'd cover.

Rutledge said...

Sounds like we've got our work cut out for us. Funny how Kid Rock has managed to re-invent himself as the modern day face of "southern rock". That to me is far more loathsome than even his nu-metal phase. Remember back in the day when he was rap? He must die.

gunther said...

I wish Rickey Medlocke would team up with Rick Rubin and make a kick-ass new Blackfoot disc.

Shawn Abnoxious said...

'Southern Rock' (as a concept) should HEED itself... it should take warning with Americas recent killing of "Osama", the ultimate conceptual enemy... America is doing what it does best, meger results against made-up enemies. So 'Southern Rock', which I admit, may or may not exist int he hearts and minds of gentle citizens everywhere, shall take HEED... maybe THE SMURFS should elevate their threat level too.

I decided to elevate my threat level from TACO to BURRITO. Shits getting tense. i shall HEED.

BTW, HEED is a 'new' band name (and concept)

gunther said...

Take HEED, Shawn. Wrap yourself in a double-taxed American flag. It's OK. You've got the football!

gunther said...

I think Kevn Kinney would be a better face for suvvern rock, even though he's originally from Milwaukee.

Shawn Abnoxious said...

Gunny, we have moved past DOUBLE TAX into the realm of TRIPPLE TAX. Now were gonna get some shit Done!

gunther said...

Triple tax on a triple cheeseburger...

Rutledge said...

Did you happen to catch the latest Extreme Pig Outs special on the Travel Channel? Gotta make the trip to the Heart Attack Grill someday for the Quadruple Bypass burger. Not sure what else the state of Arizona has to recommend. The Grand Canyon. John McCain. Bacon wrapped hot dogs.

gunther said...

Jeff Dahl? Diana Taurasi?

Rutledge said...

That's it! Jeff Dahl! I knew Arizona had some rock n' roll running through its veins! The Beat Angels were from Arizona too. I will review one of their albums in 2014.

Rutledge said...

Strange things afoot in blogspot this week. All Thursday posts disappeared briefly due to "technical difficulties"...and all the Thursday comments are still gone. Maybe they didn't fancy to us promoting Jeff Dahl. Jeff Dahl, Jeff Dahl, Jeff Dahl! Arizona's finest!

gunther said...

I'll review an album from him soon. Maybe Ultra Under, Bliss or French Cough Syrup.

Rutledge said...

You review Dahl, I'll review Beat Angels, and then we'll wrestle for the Consumers. Gonna put 'Zona back on the map!

gunther said...

Do you dig The Weird Lovemakers?

Rutledge said...

Never heard 'em. I know: hard to believe!