There’s no mistaking this latest Waco Brothers release for anything but another blast of fury from this mighty unit, but there’s a renewed energy in these grooves, a muscular throb that calls to mind a merging of the old (T. Rex, Wire) and new (Bo Diddley, Dead Weather) worlds, an excitement that feels like gritty Los Angeles in 1982 at a club where X and the Blasters take to the stage and thrust their collective might upon the people and begin leading a revolution that leads to an equal respect for Johnny Cash and Johnny Thunders. That all happens in the first couple minutes of the record which, by the way, happen much faster than the minutes experienced by average bands and average fans. These Waco Brothers and their fans ain’t cut from your grandad’s denim and leather.
“Building Our Own Prison” is a disorienting, hallucinatory slab of rock that’s reminiscent of that time you took a handful of motion sickness pills and wound up trampled underfoot at a Dr. Feelgood show where Graham Parker showed up to shout a bit of venom into the air. “DIYBOB” recaptures the thrill and vibrancy of the Heartland Rock heard in beer commercials and ballrooms during the mid-1980s when the Rainmakers and Del Fuegos roamed the highways and byways of America, seeking truth and a fistful of reds. “We Know It” is pure rock theater spread out across three minutes, a tune that demands to be experienced in the live arena and also demands that the listener abandon everything and follow the Waco’s into the deep, dark alleys of the night.
“Receiver” has that aforementioned swagger and fearless vibe, suggesting that this is a group in danger of careening the planet into some sort of parallel universe where pomade and rolled up Levi’s legs are the norm and where your chain wallet is always filled to the brim with crisp bills and enough flash to get you by the doorman. The band does have a tender side, though, and that comes across on a rendition of the Small Faces tune “All Or Nothing”, a track that Jon Langford and crew have permanently dedicated to close friend and musical/spiritual mentor Ian McLagan who smiles down on the song from that great barstool in the sky.
If some of the material feels same-y after that (“Had Enough” and “Lucky Fool” seem interchangeable on first listen), let it be known that “Going Down in History” and the majestic take on Jon Dee Graham’s “Orphan Song” are enough to redeem the record and this always amusing collective.
This record ain’t perfect but neither is rock ‘n’ roll and neither are the musicians who birthed this collection with passion and amusement. That’s a spirit that’s never going to die and one that we can hope these non-brothers who aren’t from Waco can continue to practice long, long into the future. Here’s raising a glass to you, Mr. Langford, and to your crew. Long may you run and long may you run well.