Vol. 5: Back to the Armadillo
Reviewed by Raoul Hernandez, Fri., Dec. 1, 2017
KGSR's earliest Broadcasts thrilled with live, local, one-time-only covers, mash-ups, and acoustic whisperings peppered through by (inter)national all-stars legitimizing Austin's musical El Dorado. Mixtapes, if you will. Proliferated in this digital millennium rather than fading like so much analog tech, thematic collections now thrive online but never more so physically than All ATX's annual health care fundraiser.
Fully realized into a homegrown time capsule alongside Jody Denberg's collectible comps at his former frequency, Vol. 5: Back to the Armadillo ranks third in the franchise. A 2013 bow pivoted on native pairings, 2014 exploded the British Invasion, 2015 segued perfectly into psychedelia on All Along the Moontower, and last year stabilized the concept with prime bits of all its predecessors.
Reinvention rules the roost beginning with Fastball's leadoff home run on ZZ Top's "Tush," now a dirge ratcheting the high/low entwining of the trio's dual vocalists, and Charlie and son Marlon Sexton's narcotic buzz astride 10CC's "I'm Not in Love." Bold move, too, Ray Benson Westernizing Van Morrison's "Into the Mystic," and even Patrice Pike's noble failure on "Africa" (Toto) generates genuine respect.
Fealty to the classic rock canon works notable wonders for A. Sinclair ("Bell Bottom Blues"), Leopold & His Fiction ("Only the Lonely"), and big bopper Monte Montgomery ("Love Is Alive"), but genuine surprises pop: Kelly Willis & Bruce Robison recasting "Dirty Work" by Steely Dan as country-soul, My Jerusalem repaving Guy Clark's "L.A. Freeway" in the shade of alt-noir, and Jon Dee Graham and spawn William Harries Graham giving the Sextons a run for the money on an equally sticky "Faithless Love." Solid gold.