RAVEN MACK is a mystic poet-philosopher-artist of the Greater Appalachian unorthodox tradition. He does have an amazing PATREON, but also *normal* ARTIST WEBSITE too.

Thursday, April 19

(MFMT) Redneck Hippie LPs

(MFMT = Music Format Mini-Tourney)
So what I like to do, to keep my music random to an extent, but without the modern convenience of one of those robot-randomizer beatpod brain cancer machines, is take a stack of records or singles or tapes or whatever – sixteen to be exact – and have a dorkfest drunken double elimination musical elimination battle, just to put certain themes in heavy rotation, and to put certain personal favorites within those themes to test head-to-head to see what’s really the shit that fires up my stupid soulless innards a little.
I pulled out sixteen LPs that I would put in the category of redneck hippie LPs, because I was raised by redneck hippies, who were too ruffian and foul-ideared to be accepted by the trustafarian future IRA recipients of America style hippie, but also too longhaired and open-minded (like sharing a joint with a black dude… ewwww!) to be accepted by the Easy Rider (movie not magazine) style rednecks. I limited any and all artists to only one album in this thing, and I also limited it to studio albums. They went one most recently unplayed side vs. one most recently unplayed side, one-on-one, and the thing took shape like a softball tournament. I sat around drinking beer and listening to this shit and drawing pictures of a comic book idea I’ve been kicking around of rebel Islamic women who unsheathe their bodies to reveal large naked breast packed with explosives that blow up American executives in high-priced Dubai whore clubs. I need to doodle because I’m still working out the kinks in the story. Anyways, here’s the sixteen records and how they fared (I’ll only write-up the top five, because fuck the losers)…

#1: Black Oak Arkansas by Black Oak Arkansas
I never discovered Black Oak Arkansas until a few years back and they quickly became a favorite of mine – bunch of weird longhaired freaks grown in deep Arkansas redneck land making a rock band. This, their first album, is some good good shit. The intro to “Lord Have Mercy On My Soul” is one of the best trippy Jesus complex hippie freak-outs to start a song that probably ever got done, and probably got missed by those who enjoyed that type of shit back then because the hippie fucks stuck to their standard Cali-based acid acts and some shitheel ragtag pack of twangy dudes looking for some hot ass to poke probably didn’t go over so well. And the “When Electricity Came To Arkansas” freak-out rock jam at the end of side B is probably the second best ever, only bested by Alice Cooper’s “Black Juju”. I know this is the internet and you’re only supposed to like brand new shit that no one’s ever heard of, but this record is fuckin’ awesomer than shit, and if you get it on CD or digitized download, it won’t sound right, because it’s supposed to sound slightly fucked-up and scratchy and that makes you want to drink beer. Crisp digital sounds will just make you want to eat pills and masturbate to anime porn.

#2: Tejas by ZZ Top
I feel sorry for people who identify ZZ Top solely with early MTV electronically polished fool’s gems like “Sharp Dressed Man” and “Legs”, because when you get back into their early records from the mid-‘70s, there’s hardly a band that’s existed that’s got a bigger and better pure rock-n-roll catalog. Billy Gibbons has started getting secret props as a true motherfuckin’ rocker in recent years amongst degenerate stoner rock fans, but not nearly enough. Like, if I get one of those cheesy mail order t-shirt things for some reason to one of my fake names that subscribes to magazines, there’s never Billy Gibbons face black t-shirts with some ominous yet good-timed font saying ZZ Top. It’s always a stupid car with little cyber-blings and shit. Anyways, early on in my discovery of hazy, fucked-up ZZ Top, their ZZ Top’s First Album or Rio Grande Mud would’ve been the best ever, but in recent years the pure beauty of Tejas has made that my favorite ZZ Top record. “Arrested For Driving While Blind” and “Ten Dollar Man” have all the self-destructive zen observations of the best of Lynyrd Skynyrd, but somehow Billy Gibbons’ style makes it mellower, even if it’s not really mellow. Then you get to “Asleep In The Desert”, which has recently entered the small list of Songs To Play At My Funeral. If you don’t know 1970s ZZ Top, you should learn about it. If all you know about 1970s ZZ Top is Tres Hombres, you’ve hardly scratched the fuckin’ surface and haven’t gotten close to the best shit yet, so keep digging.

#3: Fire On The Mountain by The Charlie Daniels Band
I will be contrarian here for a minute… There are many who feel the penultimate stereotypical redneck anthem is “Freebird” by Skynyrd. And there are many who feel the penultimate Charlie Daniels song is “Devil Went Down To Georgia”. I am here to say that neither of those statements, though consensus opinion, are necessarily true, at least when it come to for-real dirtbag back roads rednecks. Maybe if you sampled a pack of Starbucks patrons in university towns about these subjects, those would come out on top. But I’m here to tell you amongst the for-real shithead grease monkey drywall dust doublewide dreamy-eyed good ole shot liver redneck, “Long Haired Country Boy” is THE motherfuckin’ anthem. And you throw in other feel-good-about-your-lot-in-life tracks like “Trudy” and “Feeling Free”, and what you’ve got is something to play on a Sunday afternoon through the shitty speaker holding the kitchen window open while you sit at the homemade picnic table smoking a homegrown joint.

#4: Dreaming My Dreams by Waylon Jennings
The process of elimination of these musical tourneys is interesting, because I’d have never picked out a Waylon record to finish highly, because a lot of times I feel Waylon Jennings is one of those great-ass things in theory and story, but in execution, sometimes it’s kinda hit or miss with him. The whole country rock thing sounds a little forced and not too smooth all the time. But I was digging this record a lot, and it made me want to find more shit that Cowboy Jack Clement had a hand in producing, because this was far more raw yet unmuddled than a lot of Jennings’ shit I’d listened to. (That’s in regards to studio albums, not his Greatest Hits record, which is a pretty good starter collection.) It’s funny I wouldn’t be like some giant Waylon Jennings fan being my favorite dog I ever had was named Waylon, but that was only because I was living with a stupid hippie bitch at the time who hated the redneck influences in my life, but she probably didn’t even know who the fuck Waylon Jennings was because he’d never guested on any Wailers songs or opened for the Dead, so I named our dog we got together Waylon in a real pussy passive aggressive move, but sometimes as a man, you have to do pussy things to stay good with the pussy. However, usually pussy like that isn’t worth the trouble.

#5: It’ll Shine When It Shines by The Ozark Mountain Daredevils
I got turned onto all these artists by my folks, and they actually had the CDB record, but I gave that back I think and the copy I have now is mine, but this is the one on this top five that is actually their record that was part of my massive music-jacking during the years after their separation, when my mom didn’t really like music and my dad didn’t really like having possessions. Nowadays, my mom will pitch a bitch and act like every record I own that is any good is actually her’s, but she’s usually wrong. This is a great record, and nothing else I’ve ever found by the Ozark Mountain Daredevils has come close (although who can deny the wonderful joy you feel hearing “If You Wanna Get To Heaven”, imagining Jesco tapdancing on plywood beside some railroad tyes?). I would call this the perfect blending of redneck and hippie because their’s nature themes and the lyrics are lazy as fuck a lot of times, not trying to do much of nothing more than watch the sun go across the sky, out in the middle of nowhere. “Jackie Blue” was actually a decent hit for this group, but the B side set of “Walkin’ Down The Road”, “What’s Happened In My Life”, “It Probably Always Will”, “Lowland”, “Tidal Wave”, and “It’ll Shine When It Shines” is one of the best laid back and wasted album sides that ever got made. I was talking to my boy Embryo the other week about how nowadays with only CDs and ipods and shit, people won’t remember that a release had two separate sides that often times could each have their own separate feel. I think one reason people aren’t as able to make good full-length albums anymore is because the hit mentality is even stronger in the digital age than it probably was before, because it used to be only pop music was hit-oriented, or something with a bunch of stations following that format like country or soul, but now when people download a lot of shit, and oftentimes just by the song, even super-shitty high-specific sub-genres can work for just that one “hit”, at least on their relative scale.
THE REST OF THE FIELD - #6: Workingman’s Dead by The Grateful Dead (only studio album they have that I like, very bluegrassy), #7: David Allan Coe Rides Again by David Allan Coe, #8: You Don’t Mess Around With Jim by Jim Croce (one summer while Greyhounding around American, I must’ve sang “Walkin’ Back To Georgia” like three thousand times), #9: Shotgun Willie by Willie Nelson, #10: Gimme Back My Bullets by Lynyrd Skynyrd (my oldest kid got her name from “Roll Gypsy Roll”, although that can actually be blamed on my wife more than me, believe it or not), #11: Grand Funk by Grand Funk Railroad, #12: Carney by Leon Russell (Haha mom, this IS your record), #13: A Friend In California by Merle Haggard, #14: Pat Garrett And Billy The Kid Soundtrack by Bob Dylan, #15: Whiskey Bent And Hell Bound by Hank Williams Jr., #16: Northern Lights, Southern Cross by The Band

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