Eighteen years and eleven albums ago Lambchop’s label billed the group as “Nashville’s most fucked up country band” but that wouldn’t be a description that comes to mind if you heard them for the first time on Mr. M, which came out earlier this spring. This time around the ever-expanding and contracting Lambchop find itself at it’s most leisurely and confident since How I Quit Smoking, their second album from 1996.
Mr. M is surprisingly unexperimental for a Lambchop record, which usually have at least one track that stands out like a swollen thumb. When you get down to it the only real Lambchop – the only true Lambchop – is the track that makes you get up and walk across the room just to stop it.
I thought why not put them all together…?
You really have to start any collection – regardless of the ultimate ranking – with “What was he Wearing?” from I Hope You’re Sitting Down – Aka, Jack’s Tulips, the first Lambchop album. Coming near the end of an album that’s already featured lush, dreamlike reminiscences of a bad trip (“Soaky in the Pooper”) and the guy who collects air fresheners (“Breathe Deep”), a song would have to be pretty strange to stand out. And it is.
#5 – “What was he Wearing?”
(“What was he Wearing?”)
Most bands would probably put a track like “What was he Wearing?” on the B-side of a single (I loooove B-sides!). Lambchop didn’t release a lot of 7″ singles, and most of them have pretty straightforward tracks on the flip – their early single for Sunday Driver has two songs (“Loretta Lung” and “My Cliche”) that are so good I can’t even tell what’s supposed to the be the A-side.
#4 – “Two Kittens Don’t Make a Puppy”
Merge Records issued “Soaky in the Pooper” as a single from their first album, already a strange choice. What was stranger was the other side of the record.
(“Two Kittens Don’t Make A Puppy”)
#3 – “I Sucked My Boss’ Dick”
This next track is from the 10″ EP Hank, which I described yesterday as Lambchop’s most “country” record. The last song is short and weird.
(“I Sucked My Boss’s Dick”)
#2 – “Thriller”
Of course, we in the Twin Cities are no strangers to audacious album titles (considering the Replacements’ seminal Let It Be and, more recently, the Fuck Knights’ Let It Bleed). Thriller is a great album title, although it didn’t appear on the cover of the disc (my copy has a sticker that says “Thriller”). It’s also a great album, taking Lambchop in new directions with their first use of horns and three covers of FM Corndog songs (all originally recorded by East River Pipe, Corndog’s one-man-band). The title track falls a good deal short of the Michael Jackson epic to which it must invariably be compared. It’s sort of Lambchop’s Metal Machine Music, but at least it’s mercifully brief.
#1 – “The Decline of Country & Western Civilization”
“The Decline of Country & Western Civilization” is my least favorite song by Lambchop. I’m not even sure why I’m posting it here. I think this playlist is entirely an excuse to post “Two Kittens Don’t Make a Puppy”, which I’ve always sort of enjoyed.
(“The Decline of Country and Western Civilization”)