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SXSW Records

Reviewed by Ken Lieck, March 17, 2000, Music

Asylum Street Spankers

Spanker Madness (Spanks-a-Lot)

Mae Questel and Val Doonican performing a duet backed by King Bennie Nawahu and David Knopfler in a distinctly vaudevillian style, but with a title phrase not coined till at least the Sixties? That's the Christina Marrs-penned "Wake and Bake," and such majestic anachronism is the heart behind the Spankers' latest dose of Madness. It would've been a cakewalk to track down and record a set of early 20th-century ditties about the ups and downs of recreational drug use ("Cocaine Blues," "Reefer Man"), and at first glance, the Reefer Madness-inspired sleeve of this new disc makes you think you've found just that. Instead, Austin' old-time blues and novelty revivalists have penned an album's worth of new tunes dedicated to getting high, many of which are so authentically old-sounding you have to look again at the credits to reassure yourself you didn't hear 'em once long ago in a hemp-fueled haze. Wammo's entry, "Winning the War on Drugs" (yes, Bill Hicks is included in the "thank-yous" section), covers more recent musical territory, taking a puff off "Ghost Riders in the Sky," while Stanley Smith's "Blade of Grass" gets introspective while sittin' around stoned and contentedly watching the world go by. Even ex-Spanker-turned-solo-star Guy Forsyth contributes a couple of numbers, "Take the Heat" and "Orion." Good stuff, man -- and you don't even have to be high to get the giggles from it. (Thursday, Austin Scottish Rite Theatre, Midnight)


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