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Let's Kill Saturday Night

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Album Review

Anyone who heard Robbie Fulks' first two independent albums, Country Love Songs and South Mouth, would doubtless have agreed he deserved wider exposure than he'd received. But while his first (and only) album for Geffen, Let's Kill Saturday Night, is hardly the most egregious example of the Major Label Debut Gone Wrong, at very least it sounds like a large-scale miscalculation that doesn't play to Fulks' strengths. Much of Let's Kill Saturday Night downplays his country influences in favor of a harder, rock-styled approach, but while it's easy to imagine Fulks making a good roots rock album (his work with the Skeletons on his pervious discs point the way), Rick Will's production here is intrusively slick and bombastic most of the time; the crashing guitars and booming drums on "Caroline" and "She Must Think I Like Poetry" have been processed within an inch of their lives and all but drown out the artist's vocals, and the guitar/keyboard arrangement of the title cut turns a charging rocker into a cut-rate Bruce Springsteen parody. Far more surprisingly, some of the his material is not up to his usual standards; "God Isn't Real" is smug and self-satisfied when it means to be bitterly witty, and "Take Me to the Paradise" is a neo-Mark Eitzel character study that ultimately goes nowhere. The shame of it is there are a few cuts on Let's Kill Saturday Night that suggest how good the album could have been in more sympathetic hands; the spare and understated "Night Accident" and "Bethelridge" are both subtle and superb, and "Can't Win for Losing You" is a top-shelf Buck Owens-style twanger. Geffen was swallowed up in a corporate merger shortly after Let's Kill Saturday Night was released, which put paid to the album's commercial prospects and sent Fulks back to the indies, which may have been just as well — it's hardly the sort of calling card Robbie Fulks deserved, and his 2001 album Couples in Trouble proved he had far better ideas of his own about how to direct his rock influences.

Customer Reviews

Couldn't Disagree More with the iTunes Review

So many poor reviews for Let's Kill Saturday Night are written from the myopic perspective of or insurgent country / No Depression purists who seem personally offended that Robbie would get a major label deal and then release a - gasp! - rock 'n roll record. Reminiscent of the vitriol folkies spewed at Dylan when he went electric, these reviews inevitably speak more to what LKSN isn't as opposed to what it is. And what it is, is great.

To be sure, this is nothing like Robbie's work before or since. Much of this record rocks with the type of loud and brash abandon that is confidently and explosively announced with the titular first track. "Let's Kill Saturday Night," an aggressive rock song already finding favor as a hip cover song, roars out of the gate with loud guitars and shouted vocals that lend an urgency and anger to perhaps the quintessential Fulks song of underclass desperation.

Rick Will's production complements this approach nicely. The review's hyperbolic criticism of Rick Will's production as "slick and bombastic" is similarly misplaced here. Some of LKSN is downright - and wonderfully - ragged and raw. "Little King" is new punk in its intensity and immediacy. "Caroline" rides a wonderfully greasy guitar riff into a song that plays like the downtown flip side of "She Took a Lot of Pills and Died." Other standouts include "She Must Think that I Like Poetry" and the must-have-been-written-with-her-in-mind duet with Lucinda Williams "Pretty Little Poison. "Night Accident" is perhaps the most powerful song Fulks has written to date (Fulks fans know that's by no means faint praise).

I do agree with the iTunes review in its criticism of the album's one real misstep "God Isn't Real." While the song is indeed smug and condescending, it commits the more inexcusable mistake of being boring.

I would unreservedly recommend this CD to anyone. Fulks fans who give it a real chance will not only find some of his finest work, they will find a collection that will flesh out their understanding of all of his work. Those not familiar with Robbie's genius will find a wonderful entry point into his expansive and excellent catalog.

Biography

Born: March 25, 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...
Full Bio