Once A Day

Nick West's reviews for Bucketfull Of Brains and Rock'N'Reel

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Location: London, United Kingdom

Co-editor and publisher of Bucketfull Of Brains since 1996.

Saturday, September 08, 2007




Robbie Fulks has proved himself over the last decade to be a class act. Probably the closest alt.country has to an Elvis Costello, Fulks combines acerbic wit, eclecticism, poetic lyricism and a great ear for tunes. Not only can he write old-fashioned country songs, but also Harry Smith-type ballads olde folk pastiches, and glorious pop. His ‘God Is Not Real’ must be the finest song Willie Nelson’s never covered.

After five fine albums for Bloodshot, punctuated by a brief major label sojourn, he’s recently transferred to Glenn Dicker’s home-of-all-the-talents Yep Roc. This live double CD though is something of a curate’s egg. Bits of two shows, one electric, one acoustic, a few new songs, but mainly the back catalogue and personal enthusiasms. The opening barbershop sing-around ‘We’re On The Road’, with tongue firmly in cheek, explains its raison d’etre, and launches the electric disc. This includes the lovely west coast-tinged ‘You Don’t Mean It’ and an excavation of ‘Cigarette State’, with its splendid dig at Alabama, last seen on a Bloodshot sampler.

The acoustic portion spends time acknowledging influences. There’s Benny Martin’s ‘That’s A Good Enough Reason’ played in honour of John Hartford, and two public domain songs, ‘Bluebirds Are Singing For Me’ and ‘Away Out On The Old Sabbath met through, respectively, The Country Gentlemen and The Carter Family, and then there’s Cher’s ‘Believe’.
It’s all good fun, though how necessary will depend on how much you already like Fulks. Certainly it makes the undeniable argument that when he comes to town he’s well worth the ticket price.


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