Bad Livers
(Copyright © 1999-2024 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )
Delusions Of Banjer , 6/10
Horses In The Mines , 6/10
Hogs On The Highway , 6.5/10
Industry And Thrift , 6/10
Blood And Mood , 6/10

I Bad Livers vennero formati nel 1990 ad Austin (Texas). Dust On The Bible (1991 - Quarterstick, 1993), con le sue cover di classici del gospel e dello spiritual, metteva in mostra soprattutto il virtuosismo di Danny Barnes al banjo, di Mark Rubin alla tuba e al contrabbasso e di Ralph White al violino e alla fisarmonica, appunto le armi che vinsero loro un pubblico e una Dal vivo, si resero protagonisti di esibizioni provocatorie in cui eseguivano brani storici del punk-rock e dell'heavy metal in versione bluegrass.

L'album Delusions Of Banjer (Touch & Go, 1992) e` un omaggio surreale alla tradizione: Shit Creek, If It Runs e Uncle Lucius sembrano brani di un secolo prima, ma in realta` sono tutti originali.

Il concept Horses In The Mines (Touch & Go, 1994), registrato in presa diretta in una baita nei boschi, ha dalla sua qualche vignetta d'epoca alla Taj Mahal (Turpentine Willie), un paio di corse a perdifiato nel bluegrass (Old Folk's Shuffle, Blue Ridge Express), uno yodel desolato (Time And Time Again) e una ballata ubriaca (High Lonesome Dead And Gone). Fra la Band e i Flying Burrito Brothers esiste un territorio che i punk non disprezzano.

If English is your first language and you could translate my old Italian text, please contact me.
(Translation by/ Tradotto da xxx)

Se sei interessato a tradurre questo testo, contattami

Bad Livers' cow-punk took an unpredictable turn with Hogs On The Highway (SugarHill, 1997), an even more serious concept album that pays tribute to the southern roots of American music. It is Danny Barnes' material that prevails: the country ballad Counting The Crossties is perhaps his melodic masterpiece; the yodeling Dallas Texas showcases an acrobatic Leo Kottke-ian guitar technique; and the closing Falling Down The Stairs is a depressed, lengthy howl that summarizes his blue-collar philosophy, adapted from the blues and Apalachian hillbillies to modern urban America.
Barnes also pens divine old-time tuba-based vignettes like the marching band spiritual National Blues, the honky-tonking blues Lathe Crick and the jumping ragtime Shufflin' to To Memphis.
And, of course, the cherries on the pie are his sprightly bluegrass raids, notably Hogs On The Highway, My Old Man, News Not The Weather and Corn Liquor Made A Fool Out Of Me. Humour and verve propel a spirited collection of old-time jigs played by a bunch of drunken kids.
Not surprisingly, White quit after this album, replaced by Bob Grant on mandolin and guitar.

Industry And Thrift (SugarHill, 1998) does not suffer at all from the loss. The loud and bouncing (and humourous) I'm Convicted is almost funk and boogie, and hardly fits with the rest. Brand New Hat is another fast and syncopated Kottke-ian sketch. But the core of the disc is elsewhere. Barnes is maturing as melodist and arranger. Introduced by the soulful ballad Lumpy Beanpole & Dirt (with sophisticated banjo and tuba interplay) and closed by the mournful ballad Anna Lee (with a touching counterpoint of accordion), the album showcases some of Barnes' most melodic achievements ever, framed by a tight storytelling art, from the funereal blues of Captain Oh Captain to the epic bluegrass romp of I'm Going Back To Mom And Dad. Barnes the old-time revivalist is confined to the bluegrass Honey I've Found A Brand New Way and the lengthy Hollywood Blues. Perhaps this album marks the transition from Barnes the comedian to Barnes the songwriter.

It comes therefore as no surprise that Blood And Mood (SugarHill, 2000) takes the Bad Livers in uncharted territory, abandoning their controversial punk/country crossover in favor of electronica arrangements and hip hop rhythms. Fist Magnet sounds like a Beck cover of Neil Young's Old Man. The full-tilt boogie of I'm Losing has the guitar burning a droning riff and then soaring like an aeroplane. The headlong rock and roll of One More Night In A Hotel shakes the foundations of their music.
But the core of the album are cyber-ballads like the slow waltzing Death Trip, the chaotic blues Man Vs Fate and The Legend Of Sawdust Boogers (that would be a romantic ballad without the loud thumping and the distorted samples). These songs are carefully arranged, even when only two or three instruments accompany the melody. The Bad Livers could easily compose chamber music. The ghostly shuffles of Looky Here sets dissonant banjo against samples and synthetic beat.
Unfortunately, the new course penalizes Barnes' storytelling and melodic skills, that are relegated to Love Songs Suck. All the songs are originals, and they are all written by Barnes. Barnes is potentially one of the greatest auteurs of his generation, although he still has to find his true voice. He has replaced the country excesses of his youth with a mature persona of songwriter and arranger.

What is unique about this music database