Today’s Cool Album of the Day (#648 in the Series) is Buck Satan and the 666 Shooters, Bikers Welcome, Ladies Drink Free
Life is just full of surprises. I know you’ve heard that one before. I particularly enjoy when those surprises come at you from the field of music. I’ve been a fan of good music since I was a wee lad. I guess you can say that music has played a large part in my life for over 45 years. I can honestly say that without a doubt one of the biggest surprises I’ve ever had in the field of music is this new album from Buck Satan and the 666 Shooters Bikers Welcome, Ladies Drink Free. I say that because it’s not one surprise, there are layers of them!
Yes, indeed, the surprises come at you from many levels on this one. The first one is the act. The project is headed by Alain Jourgensen of Ministry. This is more or less his baby. No, it’s not a surprise that Uncle Al has a side project, he’s had many. And many of them have been darn good. You may have heard some of the music he’s done with RevCo (formerly The Revolting Cocks). It was more raw good fun that wasn’t all that different from Ministry. Now here’s the surprise. His co-conspirator in Buck Satan is Cheap Trick’s Rick Nielsen. Rick’s guitar work matches up well with the sound that Al is producing here. I just never expected to see those two team up. The rest of the band includes Tony Campos from Static-X and Mike Scaccia of Rigor Mortis.
OK, now this is where another surprise kicks in, and it’s a big one. This ladies and gentlemen, is a project with its roots heavily in country. No, it’s NOT a country album. Although I’d love to hear these guys do that as well. Alain describes the sound here as “cowboy-core.” They’ve combined an interesting set of originals and covers and then gave them their personal workover. Alain has stated that he’s wanted to do a project like this for over 30 years. Who knew? No, this isn’t for everyone but no music should be. Even if this IS for you it won’t be for you all the time. I’m not often in the mood for this, it is indeed radical, but when I am, I must say, they’ve created a great sound. It almost sounds to me like an even more raw version of the early 80s band, Rank and File. You might remember them as an early Alejandro Escovedo project.
These surprises are one of the reasons I’ve always respected Alain Jourgensen as a musician. He’s always a step ahead of you. He gave me another huge surprise one night when I was listening to a radio broadcast of a game by my beloved Chicago Blackhawks. Who pops up during intermission to talk love of hockey and also to introduce a song about the Hawks, called “Keys to the City” yeah, Al…. blew me away.
I’ve read some interviews with Al discussing the project. This has been on his mind for some time as mentioned earlier. A near death health scare and a turn to sobriety pushed the project onto the front burner.
Now let’s get to the music. The first song might be my favorite track as we quickly hear that there just maybe a sobriety theme running through them darn songs there don’t ya know. The track is titled “Quicker Than Liquor” and included the line. “If you want to die much quicker, then the answer isn’t liquor. The answers got to be, heroin and cocaine.” I find it quite an interesting angle he uses by calling it “the answer.” It’s good that it’s the answer to a question that he no longer needs to ask.
Three cover tunes also stand out. The first is his nod to the great Gram Parsons. Yes, he’s someone who lost his life mainly due to his addictions we could easily say.. They take on “Drug Store Truck Drivin’ Man.” They attack this just like they do all the other songs on the album. It’s loud it’s brash and it’s great.
Another cool cover is the Grateful Dead’s “Friend of the Devil.” Jerry Garcia would have dug this cover I believe.
Next up was THE biggest surprise for me. The third cover tune is from the 1973 and is a killer version of Heartsfield’s “The Only Time I’m Sober is When You’re Gone.” This just threw me back as I never expected to hear a cover of a song that I’ve known for going on 40 years. But I wasn’t the one this surprised the most. That was some of the members of Heartsfield when I broke the news to them of its cover. The song was written by Phil Lucafo and the late Perry Jordan. Phil shares his thoughts about their song being part of the mix: ” ‘The Only Time I’m Sober Is When Your Gone’ was one of Heartsfield’s most popular songs and while Perry and I often thought someone would cover it, I never imagined the likes of Buck Satan and the 666 Shooters. This tells us we are only limited by our imagination. Kudos to Al for the great arrangement. I hope his fans enjoy this song as much as ours did.” Here’s a taste of the Buck Satan version.
When discussing this with some of Heartsfield’s band members they all had the same question. How in the “heck” did they choose this song? Did they know it? Did a producer or a friend suggest it? They did do shows with Cheap Trick years ago so did Rick know of it? I’m putting that out there just in case someone from the Buck Satan camp reads this piece. If you know the answer, please share it with the class. It’s also interesting to note how the two long time Chicago musicians Jourgensen from the industrial genre and Jordan from the Americana genre had even begun to morph into each other as the years go by…. Check out the picks!
I’ve included some videos for your enjoyment below. I like this stuff. Some of you will too I believe. Some of you will say what the hell is this, and that’s just fine with Uncle Al and that’s just fine with me.
– Larry Carta
- Quicker Than Liquor 3:10
- Down The Drain 4:35
- Drug Store Truck Drivin’ Man 4:31
- Sleepless Nights and Bar Room Fights 3:00
- Friend of the Devil 4:25
- The Only Time I’m Sober Is When You’re Gone 3:21
- Cheap Wine, Cheap Ramen 4:11
- What’s Wrong With Me 4:19
- Medication Nation 4:34
- Ten Long Years In Texas 4:30
- I Hate Every Bone In Your Body Except Mine 5:18
- Take Me Away 4:37
- Buck Satan – Banjo, Harmonica, Keyboards, Mandolin, Pedal Steel, Vocals
- Rick Nielsen – Guitar
- Tony Campos – Bass
- Mike Scaccia – Banjo, Dobro, Guitar, Guitar (Acoustic), Guitar (Electric)
- Dave Barnett – Standup Bass
- JoBird – Fiddle
- Barry Kooda – Backing Vocal
- Margaret Lejeune – Cello
- Sammy DAmbruoso – Drum Programming
- Andrew Davidson – Drum Programming, Engineer
Listen to selected tracks below… Thanks to “blixabargel” on YouTube for the videos!
Heartsfield song covered by Buck