|Degreaser - Lords Of The Highway (psychobilly)
Rock'n'Roll Purgatory RRP 011
Following on the heels of 2003's already unavailable "Lost In Sin" this latest offering from Cleveland's Lords of the Highway marks their fifth full-length release, and promises to be the brightest point in their 13 year history. Since 1992 when the band formed, the line-up has changed a lot, with the lone exception of Dennis A. Bell on the Gretsch guitar and vocals. "I could barely play guitar back then," he recalls shaking his head, "I can barely play it now," he adds with a good-humored yet self-effacing modesty. In fact, his acclaimed guitar playing forms the backbone of the band's style, which refuses to serve up trite cliches to placate hipster crowds, or simply gather dust as a museum piece. As members came and went, the mission stayed stubbornly intact until 1999 when Sugar filled the vacancy on upright bass, ushering in a new era of band chemistry and cohesion. Not only had the Lords of the Highway gained a proficient and versatile lefty on the doghouse, but they also gained a shapely showman with a sense of nuance, knowing when to slap, slither, or slide across her instrument. However, the perfect trinity had not yet arisen. That didn't happen until 2003 when Pete Yorko, fresh out of high school but well-versed in the art debauchery, joined the band, bringing his special brand of lunatic drumming and a fat sack of eccentricities. It is not every day that you see a drummer salaciously licking his kit while beating it sternly, embodying the dynamic forces and cosmic dualities that make the band as a whole work: the sweat and swagger of lewd sexuality meshed with the taut musculature of a drunken hillbilly.
Since the alignment of these stars into a constellation of consternation, they've played their fourth straight year on the main stage at the Heavy Rebel Weekender in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, did a week of gigs at Bike Week in Daytona, Florida, and went as far east as New York to play the legendary CBGB's. Most recently they've landed a live appearance and gory acting roles in "The Red Skulls" the upcoming horror film by Speed Freak Productions about a gang of blood-thirsty mutants. These appearances are in addition to gigs with Reverend Horton Heat, Southern Culture on the Skids, HANK III, Dick Dale, Hasil Adkins, El Vez, Sonny Burgess, Ray Condo, Wesley Willis, Nekromantix, The Derailers and Lee Rocker. They've also played countless rowdy punk shows with the likes of The GC5, Kill the Hippies, Flatus, The Spitzz, The Candy Snatchers, Hudson Falcons, and on and on...
One aspect of the band that makes "Degreaser" stand out is the way each member feeds off the others, adding a taste of their own personalities while not being at odds with the overall band dynamic. The result is a distinctive sound that stays fun yet skilled, adventurous yet coherent. Dennis, Sugar, and Pete all take their turns at the wheel, steering the band down side-trips to county fairs and exotic lands. Perhaps most striking is the evocative power and lyrical quality of the'instrumentals, which often take a ponderous tone that contrasts with the primal psychology erupting elsewhere with a deranged twist. "Get In Your Pants" belies simple locker room machismo with its eccentric phrasing and creepy charm, while "Get Lost" saunters across the speakers with a reciprocating sneer. You'll also hear Pete's eerie croon on "Legend of 369" and "Phantom of Cool," in addition to a hillbilly-punk / square dancin' take on the Misfits' "Die, Die My Darling". Throw in a pair of cautionary tales about the real cost of drinking ($100 Hangover) and curvy scenesters with attitudes (Rock'n'Roll Bitch), and you have something that transcends your average retro act. The final track is the third episode of Truckman, a radio play that tells the story of our bumbling hero's efforts to end a truckers' strike by combating the efforts of Amish scab workers led by the fiendish Malachi Vanderbilt. By the end, the Lords of the Highway will have you shakin' like you got the DTs.
Info provided by Rock'n'Roll Purgatory, 2005