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Album Review

On the opening cut of Robbie Fulks' album Revenge, Fulks and his band are interrupted while singing about the dubious joys of life on tour by a phone call from one of the head honchos at Yep Roc Records, who informs Fulks that the label wants a new record, but it has to be delivered fast and cheap since his previous effort didn't move that many units. All of which serves as a curious but entertaining set-up for this double-disc live album, divided into a "Standing" set with a full electric band and a "Sitting" acoustic set featuring minimal accompaniment. Exactly who Robbie Fulks is wreaking vengeance upon (beyond the larger music-buying public who have failed to make him wealthy and famous) is never made clear, but this album is an accurate re-creation of the "Live Robbie Fulks Experience" for the fans at home. Fulks and his band are in superb form on disc one, especially guitarist Grant Tye and drummer Gerald Dowd, sounding tight and sympathetic as they swing from the weepy "The Buck Starts Here" to the swinging "Cigarette State" and closing out with the high-test rock & roll of "Let's Kill Saturday Night." The acoustic disc is no less accomplished, if a bit less user friendly, as it features both a Cher cover ("Believe") and an enthusiastic celebration of misanthropy ("I Like Being Left Alone"), though Fulks' duet with Kelly Hogan on the Carter Family's "Away out on the Old Saint Sabbath" is beautiful stuff. On a good night, Fulks is one of the most exciting and entertaining singer/songwriters to emerge from the alt country scene with a band to match, and Revenge documents two very good shows with Fulks and his compatriots firing on all cylinders, even if his curiously smug sense of humor intrudes upon the proceedings every once in a while.


Born: 25 March 1963 in York, PA

Genre: Country

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Singer/songwriter Robbie Fulks was one of the more heralded talents in the alternative country movement, displaying an offbeat, sometimes dark sense of humor in many of his best moments. As time passed, he moved away from the country twang of his early work and into a crunchier roots rock hybrid. Fulks divided his childhood between Pennsylvania, Virginia, and North Carolina, and received his schooling at Columbia University. He moved to Chicago in 1983 and first served as vocalist and guitarist in...
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