Chickasaw Mudd Puppies - Fall Line
It was most likely their association with Michael Stipe that first brought the Chickasaw Mudd Puppies to my attention in 1990 with their debut release White Dirt. He had been intrigued by the Athens, Georgia duo and along with John Keane produced that album. He also went on to produce their next effort 8 Track Stomp along with the legendary bluesman Willie Dixon. Over the course of those two records Brant Slay (vocals, washboard, harmonica) and Ben Reynolds (vocals, percussion, electric guitar) used a combination of traditional instruments and others they invented like the stomp board, and along with items like cans and the washboard they spit out their own unique sounding raw, bluesy, swampy rock often with a shot of punk energy, some garage rock and country, that was as infectious as it was quirky. Unfortunately, they didn’t get a lot of attention from the record buying public and in 1992 they called it a day. Fast forward to 2011 when they get a call saying they want to use the song “Ponky Knot” for the movie The Mechanic. The band didn’t own the rights to the song, so they rerecorded it as “Chicken Bone”. This motivated them to regroup, adding a third member Alan “Lumpy” Cowart, drummer for The Beggar Weeds, who continuing in that Mudd Puppies fashion also played things like buckets, trash cans, blocks and more. Now, twelve years later, we have album number three Fall Line, which was mixed and mastered by one of their old producers John Keane. Kicking the album off with the guitar blast on “9 Volt” it's like they never left. Hard charging, dirty, fuzzed out guitars, driving drums, harmonica - all the pieces are in place. From the slower, but still gritty and raw "Preacher" and "Roadkill" with its slinky, slightly funky beat and dirty blues groove to "Scale, which starts with an acoustic guitar and moves into a laid-back rocker with a powerful undercurrent along with that Mudd Puppies quirk and the just under two minute blast of "Florida" on to the darker thick grooves of closer "Little Man", there isn’t a bad track to be found here. The addition of Cowart definitely gives their sound an added element and there is a sense of maturity here, but neither of these keep them from sounding like anything other than themselves. If you missed out on these guys the first time around, do yourself a favor, grab a copy of Fall Line and don't make the same mistake again.