Devil’s Game (Saustex)
By Craig Regala
Not my beat overall, but shit, being a rock and roll guy means you’ve got some taste for roots rock, and this stuff is banged together from classic country and folk like much of the recent decade’s alt.country or Americana. Sounds for real to me. It ain’t like the guy’s too worried about being “authentic,” just good. If “Highways Made To Run” doesn’t stick to your dome like Dylan’s “Like A Rolling Stone” or Paul K’s “The Third Day Is The Worst,” you got no top to yer head.
The big deal’s in the tunes; you can figure out how to fake the form, but if you don’t have the ability to write well and make it stick like you live today, it won’t mean dick to anyone’s life. Yeah, Devil’s Game tangles up a couple related traditional forms, but it damn well absorbs and moves in the real world. Think about it: How much does life itself change? Not much: Same emotions, feelings, problems, and situations people have always had. Like many a lad who grew up out in the country and lit out for the big city, Stevie ran smack dab into punk rock. Thank little baby Jesus it was the good stuff. He absorbed the deep feelings and what-the-fuck honestly of just doing it via punk and applied it to his band then, The Tombstones, and his stuff now.
So if you listen to the alt.country or Americana stations on satellite radio, you’ve probably heard him. Shuffle Stevie’s music with Nick Cave, Jimmie Dale Gilmour, Red Meat, Pin Monkey, hard country from George Jones, the Hanks (Sr. and III), especially the stuff that came up from Buck Owens. Add death ballads from Chris Whitley, Neil Young, and Towns Van Zant. Go ahead and chuck in Two Cow Garage and Cross Canadians Ragweed’s countried up rock, roll it tight, and get a good lung full. A couple punk rock oldies I wanna hear’m do: The Dead Boys’ “Ain’t It Fun” (returning the favor cuz Stiv covered one of his, “Nobody”) and “The Flesh Eaters’ “A Minute To Pray, A Second To Die.” Best cover of Cash’s “Fulsom Prison Blues” yet. If you like this, you’ll like the previous album, 7:30 am, a bunch too, as long as the overt country as country parts don’t irk you. So don’t be a sissy” Like bourbon, it’s smooth, as long as you can deal with the real stuff.