Cockadoodledon't, Th' Legendary Shack Shakers
Bloodshot Records BS096

Time Out, New York, wrote earlier this year "The Legendary Shack Shakers" debut COCKADOODLEDON'T (due on Bloodsshot in April) offers an able take on roadhouse rock. The group's appealpredominantly rests on the sligth shoulders of frontman Colonel J.D. Wilkes, who sings, blows harmonica, and - most impressively - launches vaudevillian dances suggestive of a redneck Buster Keaton".

They are right about the Colonel, but they got the debut-part wrong. I'm not familiar with Colonel Wilkes history, but I do have another Shack Shakers album here from 1998 titled "Hunkerdown", released on Spinout records and produced by the legendary Eddie Angel. The title song of this album can also be found on this new release. Looking at the lines notes of both albums, it seems like Wilkes himself is the only one left from the Hunkerdown line-up. On this new CD it reads that, apart from Wilkes, Joe Buck does most of the other instruments. My guess is, this is not a person, but the band named "Joe Buck" of "Remember The Alimony" fame (also reviewed on our website).

A word of warning first; this is NOT rockabilly music. In fact, it will be quite difficult to label The Shack Shakers' music. Hillbilly Garage Bluegrass Boogie Blues sounds pretty neat, don't you think? Anyway, it does rock, and that's what it's all about. Wilkes is also quite a creative character, because apart from playing lots of instruments himself, he also wrote 9 out of 12 songs, all with arrangements by himself and Joe Buck.

So, let's give this lady a spin. It all starts with rockin' the blues on "Pinetree Boogie". Heavy bass lines, wild harmonica and just the right distortion on both guitar and vocals make this a (s)hack of a song. More blues in a slow down mode on the roadmusic track "CB Song". Hot country licks and a fast uptempo rhythm, banjos and all, on "Help Me From My Brain". My brain is broken, spinning round and round; weird but nice. "Shakerag Holler" sounds like Brittish skiffle with a blues line, shakerag seems like a good word for it. "Clodhopper" is kind of a Jimmy Skinner song, a bit of jug and blues. Next is "Bullfrog Blues" (was that a Canned Heat original?) followed by a bluegrass banjo and fiddle song titled "Blood on the Bluegrass". Great lyrics! "Devils Night Auction" comes down to more blues, Shack Shakers' style, but there is also some good old rock 'n' roll on Benny Joy's orginal "Wild Wild Lover". Back to the old rhythm & blues with Slim Harpo's 1966 Excello recording "Shake Your Hips", rough and tough. The closer is a very fast rockin' song titled "Hoptown Jailbreak", don't dance to this one, it's a feet killer :-))

[A word from the Colonel]
A young lady at one of our shows approached me with one simple, yet disarming query: "Are you retarded?". I let forth a knowing chuckle, pinched her firmly on the rear end, and assured her it was much, much more complicated than that...

Th' Legendary Shack Shakers are:
Col. J.D. Wilkes - Vocals, Harmonica, Melodeon, Banjo, Keys
Joe Buck - Guitar, Upright Bass, Drums, Key Accordion, Mandolin, Banjo

Additional performances by:
Mark Robertson, Paul Simmons, Donnie Herron, Jason Brown, Andy Gibson

Kip Krones with Christoper Moon

David T. Viecelli

Reviewed by The BlackCat, 2003