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Former Squirrel Nut Zippers frontman James Mathus has worn many hats during his career. From the Zippers' goofy post-vaudeville hot jazz to his own solo experiments with Delta blues, he has been a tough guy to pin down, and National Antiseptic is no exception. On this 2001 release, James Mathus & His Knockdown Society churn out dirty and gritty swamp blues with an authentic fervor that similar artists like the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion and White Stripes have also toyed with. Drums are pushed into the red on almost every track, eclipsed only by Mathus' crunched-out electric guitar and his loose juke joint murmurs and howls. Like other successful white blues interpreters (Koerner, Ray & Glover in the '60s and G. Love & Special Sauce in the '90s come to mind), Mathus seems to draw from a well that has eluded Jonny Lang and Kenny Wayne Shepherd. This may be because Lang, Shepherd, and their contemporaries are recalling Eric Clapton and Stevie Ray Vaughan in their tributes, while Mathus & His Knockdown Society seem to have stacks of old Charlie Patton and Lightnin' Hopkins 78s in their briefcase full of blues. Whatever the reasons, these guys certainly play an authentic brand of roots music, sounding as if most of the record could have come out on Fat Possum records alongside T-Model Ford and R.L. Burnside's recent recordings. Barroom stomps like "Innit for the Money" and "Stranger" stand out as highlights, recalling not only early electric blues records, but a little stride piano and honkin' R&B saxophone as well. Those expecting a continuation of Mathus' work from any of his previous incarnations may be disappointed, but anyone who appreciates a good, loose, gritty blast through some time-honored musical styles will be warmly delighted.
|Label:||Mammoth / Umgd|
Performance CreditsJames Mathus & His Knockdown Society Primary Artist,Bass,Guitar,Mandolin,Vocals
Greg Bell Organ,Piano
James Luther Dickinson Piano,farfisa organ
Greg Humphreys Background Vocals
Patrick Smith Hammond Synth
Jim Spake Alto Saxophone
Jack Oblivian & Impala Guitar,Background Vocals
Stud Cole Bass
Ted Zarras Drums
Luther Dickinson Guitar,Mandolin
Cody Dickinson Percussion,Drums,Background Vocals
Harmony Four Background Vocals
Technical CreditsJames Luther Dickinson Producer
Rice Miller Producer
John Plymale Producer
Chris Eselgroth Graphic Design
James Mathus & His Knockdown Society Producer,Art Direction