Ray Wylie Hubbard had such a good time making his last album, Co-Starring (ND review), that he came back for more, and hell if he doesn’t party ’till his wheels fall off on this roaring, rocking, swampy collection of songs. On Co-Starring Too, his “co-stars” include Willie Nelson, Jaimee Harris, Eliza Gilkyson, Eric Church, Steve Earle, Wynonna Judd, Hayes Carll, Ringo Starr, and Ann Wilson, among others.
The ZZ Top-like blues shuffle “Even If My Wheels Off,” careens around wild curves and endless straightaways propelled by Gurf Morlix’s screaming leads on the instrumental bridge. Wade Bowen, Randy Rogers, and Cody Canada join Hubbard on the growling vocals that possess a flat urgency to get back to “see a woman who says she misses me,” and not even wheels falling off are gonna keep the singer from his quest to quench his desire.
Swamp rocker “Ride or Die (Montar o Morir)” slithers along a vibe reminiscent of Hubbard’s classic “Snake Farm”; both feature survivors shimmying and twirling their way into memories of their former selves. In this song’s case, the swaying woman is “bettin’ everything on black lipstick / She got a double tambourine / She dances around like Stevie Nicks / She dances around like Stevie Nicks.” Ringo Starr, Lucas Hubbard, Steve Lukather (of Toto), Eliza Gilkyson, and Ann Wilson join Hubbard and celebrate the resilience of this woman: “Sometimes she pretends she’s Marianne Faithfull / Young and strung out in a south of France chateau.”
Nelson joins Hubbard on “Stone Blind Horses,” a wistful look back at a long life on the road and a hopeful desire for sustenance as the road goes on forever — “there’s ghosts along the highway / My only hope is somewhere in that heaven / Someone is sayin’ a prayer for me.” Drenched in the strains of Lloyd Maines’ transcendent steel guitar playing call and response with Bukka Allen’s accordion, the song captures the love of two old troubadours riding into the musical sunset together, and it may be the album’s best song.
The raucous rocker “Only a Fool Disrespect a Woman,” driven by Eve Monsees’ and Kathy Valentine’s piercing lead riffs, with vocals by The Bluebonnets (Monsees, Valentine, Dominique Davalos, Kristi McInnis), praises the veracity and wisdom of women, pointing out with a sly wink that even “God looked at the man and said well that can’t be right / So God set out to make a better bein’.”
Psychedelic rocker “Naturally Wild,” featuring Lzzy Hale and John 5, kicks out the jams with screaming lead guitar runs that burn up the frets, while the rollicking “Texas Wild Side” rides on a riff from Paul Revere and the Raiders’ “I’m Not Your Stepping Stone.”
Co-Starring Too is classic Ray Wylie Hubbard; there’s not a bad song on this album. His lyrics don’t let up until they’ve got you where they want you, and the music snakes its way under your skin ’til you want to shed it as you’re dancing across the barroom.