Gadzooks!!! The Homemade Bootleg

Mojo Nixon

Needletime Records, 1997

REVIEW BY: Sean McCarthy


I guess I have to admit I've been fairly fortunate this year. I've had a chance to see Tori Amos, the Reverend Horton Heat twice, the H.O.R.D.E. Fest and most importantly, Morphine in Lawrence, Kansas. But the most educational concert I've attended twice, in our fine local bar called Duffy's Tavern, happened to be no other than Mojo Nixon.

Now, downing down a pitcher of Boulevard and a probably four vodka tonics may seem far from educational, but it had to be done to appreciate the true essence of Nixon. What I learned from seeing his live show was this: the guy is one helluva musician. The problem with humorous artists such as Nixon is that we belly laugh at the songs without hearing the musicianship.

Immediately after his June show, I picked up his latest album, Gadzooks!!! The Homemade Bootleg. Sort of a greatest hits package, Gadzooks!!! showcases Mojo Nixon at his sloppy, brilliant best. Part biting satirist, part incoherant hillbilly, Nixon is too good of a musician to get lumped into the "Weird Al" Yankovic category of "humor music."my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Nixon shows his musical crediability immediately with the bar stomping opener, "UFO's, Big Rigs & BBQ". Elements of rockibilly and driving rock n' roll have you almost ignoring Nixon's hillarious lyrics...almost. "Bring Me The Head Of David Geffen," is basically a retread of "Don Henley Must Die," but Nixon sings with such conviction, you don't care.

Recorded from various shows and spots across the U.S., Gadzooks!!! has a genuine pasted-together feel to it. One drawback to this is some of the songs are so fun, you realize how much is lost from being in a crowded bar with 200 screaming Mojo Nixon fans to being alone in your first floor apartment and cooking up some garlic chicken.

Two songs on Gadzooks!!! are instant bar sing along songs: "I Like Marijuana" and "Are You Drinkin' With Me Jesus". "I Like Marijuana" is about...well...hmm...I forgot. And "Are You Drinkin' With Me Jesus" contains some of the funniest material Nixon has ever done. Done in a country beat, you would swear "Are You Drinkin' With Me Jesus" would belong on your local Country and Western music station. Telling a surprisingly detailed narrative of drinkin' with Jesus, Nixon sings, "I know you can walk on the water / but can you walk on this much beer / HEYAH! are you drinkin' with me Jesus." The lyrics are funny as hell but it's the musicianship that makes this song a classic.

Other musical innovations pop up in Gadzooks!!! Listen to "Death Row Blues" and see if it sounds like the spawn of the Velvet Underground's "I'm Waitin' For My Man" and "Heroin". "High School Is A Prison" sounds like the Ramones on way cheap alcohol.

Being that Nixon usually sings about drinkin' and...drinkin', some songs on Gadzooks!!! tend to get repetitive. "She's All Liquored Up" and "I'm Drunk" begin to lose their effect after hearing "Beer Ain't Drinkin'" a couple of songs before.

Still, for a curious fan, Gadzooks!!! is definitely the one to pick up to get a Mojo Nixon collection started. The folk turned shouting gospel anthem "Take Me To Your Leader" is well worth the $12 alone. And if you can't scrap the cash to see Nixon next time he visits your local bar, get a couple of friends, drink a lot of cheap alcohol and crank Gadzooks!!! up. It's the closest you're going to get to experiencing the real thing.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 1997 Sean McCarthy and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Needletime Records, and is used for informational purposes only.