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The History of the Chadbournes: Honky-Tonk Im Nachtlokal

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Album Review

This is a very good high-quality release from Chadbourne, among his best of late for Leo Records. Don't take the credit to the Chadbournes too literally, after all, even the good doctor doesn't, since he very liberally renames past bands the Chadbournes (as he amusingly explains in his liner notes). In any case, Honky-Tonk im Nachtlokal has little to do (beside the fact that the focus is on country & western music) with LSD C&W: The History of the Chadbournes in America, the first album credited to the Chadbournes. This new outing culls recordings from various concerts with various lineups, dating between 1996 and 2002. What marks this album out of several similar collections released on small, smaller and CD-ROM labels (several of which can be found on Chadbourne's own home imprint House of Chadula) is the very good sound quality of the recordings — despite an unusually quiet mastering job — and the sharpness of the performances, making this the album of choice for anyone looking for an update on Chadbourne's take on the C&W repertoire. Honky-Tonk features four groups. Up for the first four tracks are Olivier Bernet (guitar), Victor Marco (guitar), Cédric Privé (violin) and Jérôme Renault (drums), all from the Wild Bull, "the closest thing [the Doctor] could find to a rockabilly band in Basque territory." After a shaky "Flight of the Bumblebee" (this wouldn't really be a Chadbourne album if it actually stuck to its main theme, right?), this ensemble delivers a very spirited rendition of "Up Against the Wall, You Redneck Mother," one of the highlights. The trio of Chadbourne, Chris Cornetto (keyboards, trumpet, electronics) and Billy Kettle (drums) is slightly less convincing, mostly due to keyboard patches sounding out of place, but their take on the classic Rodgers & Hammerstein song "People Will Say We're in Love" deserves mention (and brings to mind the wonderful silliness of the Chadbourne/Lovens duo). The best segment of the album is up next, with four cuts from a 2000 concert featuring Walter Daniels on harmonica, mandolinist Barry Mitterhoff and Zu's trumpeter Roy Paci, now a regular associate of the doctor's. From the delicate instrumental reading of Sam McGee's "Needlecase" to Buck Owens' gripping ballad "I'm Wasting Good Paper" and the mandolin showcase "Rabbit in the Peapatch," this is a delightful 25-minute segment that seems to beg for the integral release of that particular concert. The concluding quartet, with Mitterhoff, Bob Jordan (toy instruments, war guitar) and Chuck Rosina (electronics and effects) is a much different affair, as very odd textures and sounds (screams, gunshots, whatnots) back up an otherwise straightforward set of Cajun and Western standards, plus a closing Rahsaan Roland Kirk medley — the most out-there moments on this disc are found in these last minutes. Honky-Tonk im Nachtlokal is one of Chadbourne's superior 2000s recordings. ~ François Couture, Rovi

Biography

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....
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