Friday, June 02, 2006

GOBBLERS: Old men, young men, dead men, zombies -- they all eat it


The guy who told me I had a fondness for gobblers looked like this
When I was a kid at Albright College, I used to get invited to do a radio show with a student ten years older than me. He'd invite me to pick a few records from the station library. After he'd play them, he'd pronounce them "gobblers" and never allow me to mention them again. Everything I liked was a "gobbler." Cactus was a gobbling turkey. Lynyrd Skynyrd were "gobblers," plural. "Midnight at the Oasis," however, always received premium airtime. [If I had more wits about me then I might have asked him how he knew of "gobblers." Had he come to know "gobble-wallahs" on a deployment to India?]

But, thank heaven, Gobblers stuck with me. Now I use it a lot.

"Rebel Meets Rebel" by David Allan Coe and the Cowboys from Hell is a gobbler. The Cowboys from Hell are the multi-platinum selling heavy metal band, Pantera, and Coe is an old country singer with a good number of hits under his belt. Coe and Pantera were legitimately rebels once but by the time they got the idea for this pile of it, rebellion was well out of reach.

L to R: Dead man and gruesome singer.A coincidental mist of depression comes off the record as a result of the guitar-player, Dimebag, being pumped full of lead onstage by a crazy Pantera fan last year. It's impossible to escape the image of a homicidal maniac storming into the limelight of a claustrophobic dive while a band plays stiff and rotten heavy metal barband boogie fronted by a gruesome-looking country singer.

It's also impossible to sit through more than half of this CD without hitting eject. Doesn't matter where you start. Six tunes of a metal band completely unsuited to playing this kind of music, embellished with a guitarist who sounds like an angry but poor man's Eddie van Halen. And that's all you can stand, tops.

I have an allergy to it because groups like this were common on the bar scene in the Lehigh Valley in the mid-Eighties. At least half a dozen musicians on the circuit were facile imitators of Eddie van Halen and while their groups stumbled through drinking man's boogie persistently enough to keep the barmen busy, the axemen never desisted from loading the night with imitation's of "Eruption" jackhorned into the middle of songs like "Roadhouse Blues." You could live with it when smelling strongly of drink and bent to the task of securing a one-night stand, but outside that set of circumstances -- headache provoking.

Only two tunes stick in my brain: "Arizona Highways" which contains acoustic Led Zeppelin steals, and "Heart Worn Highway," which my ears kept mistakenly telling me Coe was singing "HeartWorm Highway."


Where's Toilet Roll Teddy?
"Rebel Meets Rebel" is musty chaff to smell above the moon next to Coe's landmark "Penitentiary Blues" from 1969. Paradoxically, Coe opened for the raging Grand Funk Railroad at the time with songs that delivered a warm and comfortable barroom boogie feel. Accompanied by someone named Toilet Roll Teddy, instead of Dimebag, he laughs his way through "Monkey David Wine," followed by the good-natured cynicism of "Walking Bum." But there's no sense of humor or good nature on "Rebel Meets Rebel." It's just a group of name stiffs who pitilessly laid down the iron until they had enough material to quit.



And sometimes you find gobblers that you actually wind up liking somewhat after persistence with the CD changer.

Presumed drunken Limey terrorist
Demented Are Go's "Hellbilly Storm" is one such record. Their routine is an idiotic one: profane zombies in bad monster movie make-up performing souped-up rockabilly. And, as goes without saying when dealing with the obscure, they're self-defeating. Demented Are Go's singer was turned away at the border by Homeland Security for beefs related to being a disgrace in a public barroom, which is where you'd think you ought to be able to be a public disgrace with little risk to the security and well-being of the nation.

But the record is catchy and harmlessly crass. The drunken lout at the microphone sings on "Pedigree Scum" about once being many and now being one. Which Homeland Security more or less made come true by rejecting him and not his bandmates. Near the end, he jauntily sings on "Jogging Machine" how he likes to watch his girlfriend stumble on the treadmill. "The only thing that turns me on is to watch you jog and fall."

Follow up to P.T. Barnum Metal:

One week after the New York Times magazine dubbed Sunn0))) and Boris to be cliche-plated "Heady Metal," both bands performed in the city. The Village Voice covered the show with entertaining vigor and style here.

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