Commander Cody’s dopers, drunks, and everyday LOSERS – (Blind Pig Records)
By Rod Ames
Back in the late 60’s and early 70’s Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen were putting out some fantastic albums. Albums such as Lost in the Ozone, Country Casanova, and the self titled, Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen, to name a few.
George Frayne, or as his loyal fans will always refer to him, The ‘Ol Commander, never went away, but it had been a while since he had given us anything new, or should I say different? Not since his last release with Blind Pig Records (www.blindpigrecords.com) in 1980 with Let’s Rock. I’m not slighting the guy either. To the contraire, I hold Commander Cody up to some kind of a weird reverence. I treasure this era of American music and he played a huge role in making that era so memorable.
Not that he ever completely left us, but The Commander is back with dopers, drunks, and everyday LOSERS! It’s an enormous amount of entertainment from start to finish. In fact, I don’t think I’ve had this much fun listening to Commander Cody since his Country Casanova record 35 years ago.
There’s a lot of bang for your buck too. The CD contains 14 tunes:
It all starts out with “Roll Your Own” which was written Mac Daniel and Mel Houston, but must have been written with Commander Cody in mind (if you know what I mean).
John Hiatt’s classic “Tennessee Plates”, which he rockifies a bit for this record, is a great addition and expertly sung by Cody. He doesn’t consider himself much of a vocalist, but I thought he was perfect on this tune.
I particularly enjoyed the remake of one of CCAHLPA’s “Wine Do Yer Stuff”, written by Billy C. Farlow and George Frayne. However, this time it’s exquisitely sung by drummer Steve Barbuto. You would swear you just walked into a dimly lit and dusty old honky tonk in West Texas in the 1950’s.
What would a Commander Cody record be without a novelty song like “Lone Ranger”, written by The Commander himself? Well, it wouldn’t be a Commander Cody record.
The next tune is “Semi Truck”, another classic from CCAHLPA’s past, again expertly sung by Mr. Barbuto.
The last half of the record contains the traditional tune, “Down and Out”, followed by “Seven Eleven”.
I was surprised, at first, with the rearrangement of “Seeds and Stems Again”; this time beautifully sung by Circe Link with Cody coming in with the spoken word “well, my dog died yesterday….” Chris “Tiny” Olsen’s pedal steel is amazing on this song as it is throughout the record.
“It’s Gonna Be One of Those Nights” is a very cool, classic boogie-woogie tune The Commander is so famous for. “OK Hotel”, “They Kicked Me Out of the Band”, “Losers’ Avenue”, and “Last Call For Alcohol” are all a lot of fun.
Then he finishes the album off with Hoyt Axton’s classic, “No No Song”. This particular arrangement could have been used for a Sam Peckinpah movie soundtrack. I loved it. I always wondered if Mr. Axton wrote this one with the ‘Ol Commander in mind as well. Probably not, but the thought really did cross my mind.
I interviewed Mr. Frayne recently and asked him about this record. He said, “We play different now. We’ve rockified everything. The way we used to play, if you listen, it was fast-paced reefer smokin’ music. You couldn’t dance to it. We’ve slowed it down a bit.”
And you know, he was right. I’m quite sure my hip is the way it is today because of me trying to dance to his fast paced reefer smokin’ music of the past. On the other hand, maybe it’s because I’ve crossed over into the geriatric sector of our society, or maybe it’s a little of both. At any rate, with dopers, drunks and everyday LOSERS, Commander Cody is back and he’s back with a vengeance!
The band for this venture is of course, Commander Cody on the piano, Mark Emerick on guitar, Steve Barbuto on drums, Chris “Tiny” Olsen on the pedal steel guitar, Randy Bramwell on bass guitar, and Professor Louie on organ and accordion. Circe Link sings the lead vocal on “Seeds and Stems Again”, with Miss Marie Spinosa assisting with percussion, tambourine and background vocals.
This latest record from Commander Cody is an extremely pleasurable romp down a very surreal memory lane. If you haven’t already added this record to your library, you need to do so.
‘Rebel’ Rod says check it out.