Fifteen years into their white-trash-mocking, surf-guitar-wielding,
bar-fight-starting, bootstomping career, Southern Culture on the Skids have
made their definitive live CD. Doublewide and Live, recorded at a
union hall over three sweaty nights, blisters through SCOTS' entire catalog
in gleefully lowbrow style. There's the grime-encrusted boogie of 1991's
"Cicada Rock," the bawdy grittiness of Geffen-sanctioned mid-1990s "Banana
Pudding" and "Dirt Track Date." There are funny songs like "Cheap Motels"
from the band's late 1990s Liquored Up and Lacquered Down CD, and
straight up-rockers like "Mojo Box" from SCOTS stripped-down return to
indie-ville Yep Roc in 2004.
No matter where you are in SCOTS history, though, the guitar playing
smokes. There's a Link Wray violence seething through "Mojo Box," pure
adrenalized danger in the distorted opening riff. "The Wet Spot" tips a
hat to Dick Dale, with its vertiginous slides and finger-blurring,
rapid-fire picking. And even when the central riff is kind of goofy, as in
"Banana Pudding," it's played with such roots-rocking abandon and muscle
that it sort of makes sense, in a three-beers-down kind of way.
Most songs are sung by frontman Rick Miller, in a voice that is rough,
jubiliant and full of trouble, the sonic equivalent of leering eyebrows and
sideways grins. Bass player Mary Huff takes the mic quite effectively,
too, in the tough and soulful "Hittin' on Nothing," and the meltingly
tender "Just How Lonely." The two of them join together in hopped-up
rockabilly harmonies on the scorching "Whole Lotta Things."
Most of the songs are about white-trash culture icons trailers, big
hair, El Caminos and even Southern food (though "Banana Pudding" isn't
completely about that dessert with the vanilla wafers). "She's
liquored up/ And lacquered down/ She's got the biggest hair in town" sings
Miller on the song of the same name, and it's hard to say whether he's
satirizing the girl in question, or admiring her. The same things in
"Doublewide," where Miller may or may not be serious about the joys of
traveling in very large trailers. It's a very inside kind of humor, the
kind of joke where if you laugh too hard (or in a Yankee accent), you might
get punched out.
Longtime SCOTS fans will already own studio versions of all or most of the
material here. Still, the fact that the songs are recorded live may well
make them worth buying again. Sure you'd rather be at Local 506 with a
long-neck in hand, close enough to see the perspiration fly, toes tapping
on a sticky floor. If you can't go see SCOTS, though, or if you saw them
last week and want to relive it, Doublewide and Live is a pretty
damn good option.