You might be asking yourself as you saunter up to this album review, “Now why would he be reviewing an album from 2003?” Th’ Legendary Shack Shakers have put out three other albums since Cockadoodledon’t (the band’s only release on Bloodshot Records) and it is hardly old enough to tag it as a “vintage” review.
Well the truth is though I’ve been a fan of the Shack Shakers on the periphery for years, I have never owned one of their albums. And if you’re going to start buying a band’s music, you might as well start near the beginning of their catalog. But I also chose this album because of its significance in the grand scheme of the Nashville underground country scene at the time.
In 2003 there was (and to some extent still is) a large group of musicians and friends hanging around Nashville, all with a similar mindset about music and the current music trends. Some were from bands like BR549 and Hank III’s “Damn Band.” Some were just pickers drifting from project to project. One of them was a goofy looking guy named Joe Buck, who played for change on Broadway in Nashville until he got a small break playing at Robert’s Western World for tips in the early 90’s. Slowly he would work his way up the ladder, and even co-owned “Layla’s Bluegrass Inn” for a stint, before splitting up with the bar’s namesake and forefitting his interest.
Later as many of you may know Joe Buck would go on to play bass for Hank III and eventually settle in as a legendary one man band, but where it all started on a National level for Joe Buck was on the Shack Shaker’s Cockadoodledon’t.
No Joe Buck isn’t just a player on this album, he is virtually the ONLY player on this album. Joe Buck plays ALL the guitar, ALL the bass, ALL the drums, and some banjo, mandolin, and accordion for good measure. There are a few cameos by other players, including Donnie Herron of BR549 and a few others. But for the most part, the songs are all Colonel JD Wilkes (the Shaker’s legendary front man), but the music is all Joe Buck.
In some ways trying to record the Shack Shakers experience and have it in any represent what they do live is like trying to save time in a bottle. But try you must, because the music is just too darn good not to. And with a little recording wit, and a bag of tricks bigger than the bag they can use on stage (incl. live roosters, and a toy-box full of kid instruments), JD Wilkes and Joe Buck infect the speaker cones in a similar way that they do the hips and hind quarters during the live version.
The music is rampant and wild, though surprisingly well-balanced in regard to tempo, and never seemingly wild just for wild’s sake. Well, almost never. Choreographed madness let’s call it. And for such upbeat songs, the music has a lot of country soul.
Joe Buck’s musicianship is not particularly standout in the album, but it is always solid. JD Wilkes would stand out in an insane asylum. The blend of music is all unique to Th’ Legendary Shack Shakers: punk, country, blues, pyschobilly, call it whatever. It is high energy, rowdy music from the country. Get some.
The album includes some old blues covers like “Shake Your Hips” and an almost ska-like, Lux Interior-esque version of “Bullfrog Blues.” There are plenty of high energy boot stompers like “Snakerag Holler, “Clodhopper,” and “Hoptown Jailbreak,” as well as a few well-written originals like “Blood on the Bluegrass.”
This album ain’t gonna drop a tear in your beer, it’s like dropping a white cross when your bouncing between white lines on the highway. It’s for anyone who likes to have a good time to good music. Just make sure to buckle up, it’s a wild ride.
(Another interesting note: former Hank III guitarist Duane Denison is now the guitarist for the Shack Shakers)
Buy or Download Cockadoodledon’t