Cut in the Hill Gang: Livin’ in a Town That Ain’t Even on the Map
Here’s how I want to write this post about the Cut in the Hill Gang’s Mean Black Cat: Holy shit, buy this album! Go! Do it now! It is flat-out, fist-pumping, sternum-thumping rock-and-goddamn-roll from top to bottom, and you need it. Then I would throw out a couple of songs, and you would listen and say, “Damn, the effusive writer is correct! Where’s my credit card?”
But some people are going to want more than my exuberant flailing to go on (if you weren’t already enticed by the description of the album in our James Leg interview).
In this most recent incarnation, the Cut in the Hill Gang is comprised of four frontmen: Johnny Walker (Soledad Brothers), Lance Kaufman (StarDevils), Reuben Glaser (Pearlene) and James Leg (Black Diamond Heavies). And on Mean Black Cat, the four put their dirty fingerprints all over other people’s songs. CitHG dip into a number of genres and eras, covering the likes of Lula Collins, the Gun Club, Gary U.S. Bonds, the Kills, Hound Dog Taylor, the MC5, Bill Allen… If you’re familiar with the other works of the CitHG members, the artists covered aren’t a huge surprise, but the way some of these songs are covered may give you a pleasant start. The opening track, “Don’t Ever Leave Your Daddy at Home”, is a stunningly ragged and raw turn on Frank Frost’s “Never Leave Me at Home” that feels like it could burn the lining out of your throat just from listening to it. And the greasy slide of the Gun Club’s “Promise Me” is turned into a sparse, haunting, echoing plea as the album’s closer.
There are also clever marriages of songs. The MC5’s “Black to Comm” flows seamlessly in and out of Hound Dog Taylor’s “Let’s Get Funky”. Later on, the Kills’ “Fuck the People” meets up with Spacemen 3’s “Revolution” to form a sneering call to arms.
Two of my favorite tracks on the album are the covers of Gary U.S. Bonds’ “I Wanna Holler” and the Mighty Hannibal’s “The Right to Love You”. Leg takes the lead on “Holler”, bringing the keys to the forefront and covering everything with his trademark growl while a tribal drumbeat thrums deep under it all. (Plus, it’s amusing to hear Leg utter the line “I’m just a silly sap.”)
The vocals of “Right to Love” are so heaped with emotion that they sometimes sound as if they will cut out all together under the strain, yet the vibe of the song holds a certain menace that makes love sound like a threat.
This album would be shooting to the top of my Favorite Albums of 2011 So Far list if it wasn’t for the fact that it was released last October.
You want this album now, don’t you? Yeah, here’s the catch for all the U.S. readers: It’s only available as an import. Mean Black Cat was commissioned by German label Stag-O-Lee and hasn’t been picked up by an American distributor. But this being the Age of the Internet, the album is easily obtainable through Stag-O-Lee’s parent company Glitterhouse or through Amazon or a few other online retailers. Yes, it will cost you a little more, but if you’re turned on by what you’ve heard, I’m confident you will find the album worth the extra scratch.
Cut in the Hill Gang @ MySpace (where you can hear a couple more songs off of Mean Black Cat, as well as the great “Soul to Waste”)
Reposted from Now This Sound Is Brave.