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Jesse Helms Busted With Pornography

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Album Review

This loosely connected songs on Eugene Chadbourne's Jesse Helms busted With Pornography make up a self-described "C&W opera." There is no plot to speak of, rather than just a theme of comically obvious corruption and obscene political commentary. The sound is vintage Chadbourne: an astute mix of avant-garde bluegrass, country, and wry protest music. Though the disc was recorded with a wide variety of musicians — including the Violent Femmes' Brian Ritchie, former Frank Zappa drummer Jimmy Carl Black, members of Camper Van Beethoven, and many others — the recording manages to hold together thanks to Chadbourne's skills as a bandleader. Mostly, the common thread that seems to bind is the artist's undeniable manic energy as he baits Jesse Helms, the conservative senator from Chadbourne's home state of North Carolina. Helms makes a good arch enemy and gives the music a pranksterish force missing from most protest music written since the 1960s.


Born: 04 January 1954 in Mount Vernon, NY

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

A seemingly endless -- and endlessly eclectic -- series of releases made the innovative guitarist Eugene Chadbourne one of the underground community's most well-known and well-regarded eccentrics. Born January 4, 1954 in Mount Vernon, NY, Chadbourne was raised in Boulder, CO, by his mother, a refugee of the Nazi death camps. At the age of 11, the Beatles inspired him to learn guitar; later exposure to Jimi Hendrix prompted him to begin experimenting with distortion pedals and fuzzboxes. Ultimately,...
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