If you grew up a fan of live music in or around Louisiana in the late 1980s or early 1990s, you knew, without a doubt, that Dash Rip Rock was going to be huge one day.
The swamp rock band’s first three albums, considered classics in my collection, were wild blends of old-fashioned high energy rock ‘n’ roll, country twang and college alternative, all delivered with a punk rock attitude. Their live shows were legendary and packed the house wherever they played. You’d be hard pressed to find one person that went to one of their shows and came away disappointed.
Despite all of that, the band’s biggest popular impact was a 1996 novelty hit, a reworking of “At the Hop” called “Let’s Go Smoke Some Pot,” a song that really didn’t do justice to what the band was all about.
Of the trio’s “classic” lineup, only frontman and founder Bill Davis remains, though retired bassist Hoaky Hickel pops up for a live show now and then — and drummer Fred LeBlanc, who went on to success with Cowboy Mouth, has produced a few of the band’s more recent albums. Davis has pushed on with a variety of other musicians, releasing a mixed bag of records that range from the superb, like the 2007 concept album Hee Haw Hell, to the mediocre. He’s been on a pretty good roll of late, though, and the band’s latest release on Jello Biafria’s Alternative Tentacles label, Black Liquor, keeps that going.
[SOMETHING ELSE! REWIND: For all of their outsized party anthems, Dash Rip Rock had a way with serious topics as well, perhaps nowhere better revealed than on 1987’s ‘Endeavor.’]
The album opens with a very familiar sound for fans in the title track. Like many of Davis’ tunes, it addresses issues from his native south Louisiana. It’s a lively party number to get things going, despite the dark tone of the lyrics. Second track “Dirt” takes things in a different direction. It’s a sludgy, heavy tune with some fuzzy 1970s hard rock guitar and a meaner sound. Lyrically, Davis chronicles the washing away of a levee and the ensuing flood with a fantastic chorus hook that makes it easily my favorite track on the record. The heavy sound comes back on “Touch of You,” a driving hard rocker with just a little punk flavor.
There’s another shift of gears on “In This World,” a jangly, foot-stomping acoustic number that leans toward Dash’s country side with Davis lamenting the ills of the world in the verse, then celebrating the love of the person that makes it all a little better in the chorus.
There’s great fun to be had all over the record as, in typical Dash form, the band never takes itself too seriously. “Beck Moi Tchew,” Cajun slang for “Bite My Ass,” offers a strange mix of zydeco and punk as it tells someone off in Cajun French for close to two minutes. “Voodoo Doll” tells the story of a man hurt by a woman and gleefully shoving pins into a voodoo doll and dreaming about revenge. Both are the kind of party tunes the band built its reputation on. “Meet Me at the River” has a rollicking Southern rock flavor, “Anvil or Hammer” gets a little funky and “Go Ahead, Baby,” finds Davis delivering his best tongue-in-cheek Elvis impression.
If you’re in a mood to party Louisiana-style, Black Liquor delivers the goods. Much like one of Dash Rip Rock’s live shows, it’s hard to leave this album without a smile on your face.
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