The Kinkster, the Killer, the Cowboy and the Fat Man…
Political comment in a song is a tricky skill to master; just ask Randy Newman and (more recently) Steve Earle who received a lot of misguided criticism when they tried to make a point through the words of a character (Rednecks, John Walker’s Blues). KINKY FRIEDMAN – LIVE FROM AUSTIN TX (New West NW8044 via Shock in Australia) is anything but politically correct and there is often an ironic sting in the tail of the Kinkster’s songs. Before he became a celebrated crime novelist and long before he tried to run for Governor of Texas, Kinky Friedman and The Texas Jewboys were outraging America with their irreverent humour and outrageous shows. This DVD features the only Austin City Limits program in over 30 years that never went to air. While Australian TV is more broadminded and Kinky has enlivened our airwaves, this unseen 1975 concert has lost none of its edge over time and is still as cutting and irreverent as it was at the time it was filmed. Wickedly funny.
The Austin City Limits repackaged shows on DVD keep on coming: From that wonderful melting pot that spawned rock and roll out of country music and rhythm and blues, we get FATS DOMINO – LIVE FROM AUSTIN TX (New West NW8029). This 1986 concert gives us a seminal artist still at the top of his game, some thirty years after Blueberry Hill first topped the charts. As an interesting companion piece, a new double CD album, GOIN’ HOME – A TRIBUTE TO FATS DOMINO (Vanguard Records via Shock) brings together a huge array of artists from John Lennon and Paul McCartney to Willie Nelson, Lucinda Williams and Norah Jones. For a moment it looked like Fats Domino had been lost in the floods that followed Hurricane Katrina until he was ultimately and thankfully rescued. Proceeds from the tribute CD go to aid the restoration of his area of New Orleans and also the city’s musical cultural heritage.
On his DVD, Fats Domino sings Your Cheatin’ Heart, while on JERRY LEE LEWIS: LIVE FROM AUSTIN TEXAS (New West NW8042) ‘The Killer’ declares that “…Hank Williams wrote this and Hank Williams sang this, but Jerry Lee got a gold record for it!” before launching in to his classic arrangement of You Win Again. This is an excellent rollicking performance from 1983 which covers country, boogie-woogie and Great Balls of Fire!
It was 1956 when Jerry Lee Lewis arrived at Sun Records studio in Memphis, Tennessee. The owner of Sun, Sam Phillips was away on a trip, and so it was that producer and engineer ‘COWBOY’ JACK CLEMENT discovered and recorded Lewis for the Sun label. Cowboy Jack would also record (among many others) Johnny Cash and they became lifelong friends. Cowboy also wrote Ballad of a Teenage Queen and Guess Things Happen That Way and other hits for Cash. From there Cowboy’s life continued to influence the path of country music, launching the careers of Charley Pride and Don Williams and producing Waylon Jennings (see www.cowboyjackclement.com for more). Now we get a peek behind the scenes in a DVD entitled SHAKESPEARE WAS A BIG GEORGE JONES FAN: COWBOY JACK CLEMENT’S HOME MOVIES. In this surreal collage of film snippets, arranged loosely in chronological order, we get a fascinating glimpse of a genius at work and at play. We see the uncensored Johnny Cash, a candid John Prine in performance, many excepts from Cowboy’s unreleased television specials (including Waylon with Jessi Colter), gruesome scenes from his flop horror flick and much more, all wrapped up with Cowboy’s philosophy and universal truths. Despite the option of turning on the audio commentary (what would home movies be without one?), it remains equal parts exhilarating and eccentric and completely mesmerizing. Available from www.shoutfactory.com and yesterdayandtoday.com.au
Until next time, happy surfing!