Reviewed by Lee Nichols, Fri., Oct. 22, 2004
Blaze FoleyOval Room (Lost Art)
The Blaze Foley legend keeps growing. Oval Room continues the re-release of Live at the Austin Outhouse tracks, recorded in December 1988 at the late, lamented Guadalupe venue just four weeks before the obscure Austin songwriter was shot to death. And where 1999's 12-song CD reissue of Live suggested a quirky genius lay within the always jobless, often homeless local bard, Oval Room expands on and solidifies that notion. It couldn't be more timely. Perhaps it's the season, but two biting political tunes make the hardest impact here, the title track and "WW III." Although written for Reagan's Cold War ("If you don't hurry, sure enough, all these kids'll be grown up be too old to die for you, so get 'em if you're going to"), the bitterness is even more prescient now. This isn't to slight Foley's tender love ballads or his sick, perverted sense of humor, though the visceral heartbreak that cuts through many songs explains why Merle Haggard developed a posthumous fascination with the guy. Meanwhile, Foley's utterly disgusting but hilarious ode to Idi Amin is long overdue for wider release. Bonus: This disc also preserves rare work by the late Champ Hood, as well as sound musical aid by other Austin icons such as Gurf Morlix and the Texana Dames. One hopes Champ and Blaze are jamming up there somewhere.