The self-proclaimed "Greatest Rock and Roll Band in the World" tries to work through a midlife crisis, with mixed results.
In the five years since rock and roll lifers the Supersuckers released a proper full-length album, 2003's excellent Motherfuckers Be Trippin', they've released a slew of live discs, an EP on June 6, 2006 -- 6/6/06! -- two countrified solo albums by frontman Eddie Spaghetti (nee Edward Carlyle Daly III), and an archives-clearing singles collection, and played north of 700 live shows, all of which has been accomplished to justify their self-applied (and, often, hard-to-argue-with) title, "The Greatest Rock and Roll Band in the World". By all accounts, the band's wish for rock 'n' roll domination seems to be going according to plan. They have a solid-to-great discography, endlessly devoted fans ("The People of Impeccable Taste"), and their own record label. So why do the Supersuckers sound so bummed out on their latest album, Get It Together?
Thanks goes to the band for naming the album something the People of Impeccable Taste can share with their grandmothers. But this is a band with a discography overflowing with hard-charging tunes like "I Want the Drugs", "How to Maximize Your Kill Count" and the classic spawn-of-Satan boast, "Born with a Tail". On Get It Together, the guitar riffs are still there, but middle-age and relationship troubles have left the once-carefree Spaghetti roadworn and weary. Who could've guessed that the Supersuckers would create their very own Blood on the Tracks?
No, I'm not putting the two albums on equal footing (no angry emails, please), but I'll be damned if Spaghetti's lament on opener "What It Takes" -- "I never felt so far away / And you're just right upstairs / I've got nothing left to say anyway" -- doesn't share more than a few strands of DNA with the last handful of verses of "Idiot Wind". Throughout Get It Together, Spaghetti's troubles pile up as quickly, as do the riffs of guitarists Rontrose Heathman and Dan "Thunder" Bolton's. He sings, "She said she loved me / But she was wrong" ("She is Leaving") and "I don't want to lose her / But I feel that I just might" ("Breaking Honey's Heart"). While we're at it, toss in the song "When I Go, I'm Gone", a Zen examination of mortality. This is deep stuff from a man who signs his checks "Eddie Spaghetti". Is there something you'd like to tell us, Eddie?
It's unavoidable that, with this trail of broken hearts, the most "Supersuckers-esque" songs on Get It Together feel the least at-home here, though they're plenty welcome for fans. The bluesy "Paid" is a scrappy blue-collar pounder of a singalong. The 90-second "I Like It All, Man" and "Come Along for the Ride" are both vintage 'Suckers: good-natured garage stomps with blistering solos from Heathman. Perhaps it's no surprise that both "Paid" and "I Like It All, Man" were written for and appeared on the 2006 Paid EP. On any other Supersuckers album, a tune called "I'm a Fucking Genius" would be the album centerpiece. Here its silly braggadocio teeters on embarrassing.
Fortunately, if you're not up for wallowing in misery and gin with Spaghetti, you can tune out the words (or buy the instrumental-only karaoke version at supersuckers.com) and admire the riff-fest that the band -- Heathman, Bolton, Spaghetti on bass, and new drummer Scott Churilla -- have whipped up with producer Billy Joe Bowers, who knows from his hard rock royalty, having engineered Black Ice for AC/DC earlier this year. The Supersuckers play 150 shows a year, and they've perfected their mix of hard rock and hellbound country. Get It Together is undeniably a tight, tight, not-a-note-wasted Supersuckers record. Still, it's strange to listen to the album and get the urge to throw up the devil horns with one hand... while signing divorce paperwork with the other.