I'll be the first to admit that it's rather easy to proclaim the Southern band Jackyl as nothing more than a second-rate rip-off of AC/DC. Why shouldn't we? Longhaired cock rockers full of three-chord attacks, simplistic lyrics and a burn-it-all attitude easily describe both of these bands. For crying out loud, Jackyl lead singer Jesse James Dupree has that same sneer and nearly identical tone in his voice that made Bon Scott such an incredible presence.
Still, for the past ten years or so, these Southern boys have managed to survive the grunge and modern rock surges and carve out a small niche throughout the land. Does that mean they deserve a greatest hits album? You, the listener, can only answer that question. Regardless of whether or not you think they do, they have released one nonetheless - Choice Cuts.
All of the Southern band's biggest hits find themselves here. Foremost is "The Lumberjack," the song that first brought them national attention. It was, is, and remains an anthem to the redneck nation. (A distinction that many others of Jackyl's songs share). Among the other highlights are "When Will It Rain," a road song that manages to actually be about more than it appears, their collaboration with Brian Johnson of AC/DC, "Locked & Loaded," and the - gasp! - thoughtful "Secret Of The Bottle," a mid-tempo ditty on alcoholism.
Jackyl's music has been dubbed part of that realm of hard rock known as cock-rock and that is the bulk of this enchilada. You have the fun "Down On Me," the strong "Push Comes To Shove" and a live version of the anthem "Redneck Punk." Also add onto that pile their cover of Grand Funk Railroad's "We're An American Band" and the tough "I Stand Alone." This is the musical equivalent of Viagra. Hear this and you'll feel like a guy with a ten-foot pole.
However, there are some sidesteps and misses here as well. "Mister, Can You Spare A Dime?" is average and sounds like something Dave Letterman may like. Their dark and dirty homage to the south, "Dixieland," is by the numbers as is their dark and moody "Misery Loves Company." Meanwhile, while I love "Dirty Little Mind," why did they release this pedantic live version? The studio version was so much better than this and it does boggle the mind that they went with this version. Oh, and whose idea was it to cover "I Am The Walrus"? If you're covering a classic and you're Jackyl, something more along the lines of AC/DC's "Highway To Hell" or Ted Nugent's "Stranglehold" would have been better.
But, I've yet to answer the original question: Does Jackyl deserve a greatest hits compilation? On one hand, most people have never heard of the band or are aware of only one or two songs-hardly a sign of large-scale success. However, if you want a CD that will give you a great idea of who, what and how Jackyl are, then this one does it in spades.
Jackyl will perhaps never win a Grammy or be recognized as a force in music. Most likely they'll fade into obscurity from here on in and won't be remembered by most major rock critics. However, if you want a rock band that is unapologetic about itself, has a great sense of humor and loves to have fun with its fans, then this might just be a band you'd like to check out. If so, give this a spin. It will bring the redneck in you out.