Review: “They Called Us Country” by DM Bob & the Deficits
Off Label Records has released what they are calling DM Bob & the Deficits’ “very long lost fifth album,” They Called Us Country. As the title suggests, the thirteen songs on this album are a rare batch recorded between 1999 and 2002 that were “simply deemed too country” to find placement on the trio’s earlier releases. You see, DM Bob & the Deficits’ sound has been best known as a garage rock and bluesy swamp pop combination, usually with only a touch of country, and so it makes perfect sense that these “stragglers,” as Bob has referred to them, have been collected and are now featured together on a single release that is no doubt destined to be a collector item.
Of course, the songs on They Called Us Country are not strictly country, but rather DM Bob & the Deficits’ version of country music. To put it bluntly, these songs walk right up to the mainstream corporate radio country and gives it a swift kick in the balls. Clearly, Deutschmark and the gang have a deep respect for traditional country and other forms of roots music, and they seem to be tipping their collective hat to the true country greats, not the rubbish that passes as country nowadays. Still, they had to do it their way; and their way turned out to be dirty, raw and raucous, a bit more like rockabilly than country, with a very noticable garage quality to it, and utterly lacking the tight precision with which the old standards were first played.
The “DM” in DM Bob stands for Deutschmark, and for good reason. Though Bob hails from the vast swamplands near New Orleans, Lousiana, he later relocated to Hamburg, Germany, where he resides to this day. Towards the mid-’90s the expatriate rocker teamed up with the two musicians that would assist him in realizing his musical vision, the Deficits–multi-instrumentalist Susie Reinhardt (grandneice of the late jazz guitarist and composer Django Reinhardt) and drummer Tank-Top. For seven years DM Bob & the Deficits wrote, performed and recorded as a trio. That was to end around 2002. Since then, they have all been involved in separate endeavors.
Over the course of the past several years Bob has kept quite busy as a painter, producer, and musician and singer/songwriter. As a painter, his work has been exhibited all over Europe. And as a musician and singer/songwriter, he has taken part in projects such as Silky, The Watzloves, DM Bob One-Man Band, and DM Bob & Jem Finer (banjo player for The Pogues). Though Susie has moved on to become a freelance journalist and author, she has continued on as a musician as well, most notably in Hoo Doo Girl. And Tank-Top plays in Rock’n’Roll Hotel. “The Horse,” “I’d Rather Be in Texas,” “Hooker Bones 2,” “We’re Comin’ Arkansas,” “Dark in My Heart,” and “Don’t Give Me Nothing” are just a small handful of songs to be found on DM Bob & the Deficits’ They Called Us Country. To be sure, it’s a great listen the whole way through. A true gem of an album. And DM Bob & the Deficits final one…unless of course more “long lost” material can be dug up and released.
Take it from me, your obscure record collection isn’t complete without this one.
*This review originally appeared at The National Examiner, for whom I have provided roots-related pieces for a few years now.