Monday, May 23, 2005

"Snake Oil"

Thinking about Dr Feelgood down there took me on to Steve Earle, who's probably the country version of their straight-ahead blues. "Snake Oil" is just about as good a song as he's ever done: yup, it's political, because Steve is a political animal, but damn, he rocks! This song starts off quietly, just a honky-tonk piano and Steve rambling over the top about nothing in particular. Then, in comes the muted guitar and the first verse and the country influence is already clear. But there's a little something more solid, more rock creeping in as well. By the time he launches into the song proper, all hell breaks loose and things get particularly funky. Fantastic guitar that wouldn't be out of place on an early Elvis track, piano being battered into submission, slide guitars filling in the spaces, this is literally exhausting to listen to. You just *know* they were having an absolute ball making this. And at the end, as the dust settles, Steve calls out: "I knew there was a first-taker on this album somewhere!" Just as well: I don't think they could have done this twice.

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