By Barry Gilbert
Of the Post-Dispatch


October 14, 2004

Th' Legendary Shack*Shakers
YepRoc Records

Labeling these guys is a chore, but here goes: Th' Legendary Shack*Shakers are old timey down and dirty Southern Gothic vaudeville country blues tent show revival shoutin' harp blowin' upright bass poundin' punk rockers.

And that's based only on their new CD. Accounts of their wild live shows are peppered with images of a shirtless Col. J.D. Wilkes singing into his old-fashioned "bullet" microphone and treating those in the front rows to sweat and, um, other bodily fluids. Sort of like Gallagher with music . . . and without the fruit and sledgehammer.

In addition to songwriter Wilkes out front blowing blues harmonica, the Shakers include Mark Robertson on bass, Paolo on drums and David Lee on guitar. "Believe" also stars the devil in a central role -- as a fellow passenger, for example, on the "Agony Wagon" and as a possible hired gun in "Where's the Devil When You Need Him?"

Other foot-stompin' tracks include "All My Life to Kill" ("Concrete Christ in an alabaster bathtub/He's draggin' that crooked creek bed full o' bad blood") and "Cussin' in Tongues" ("Go ahead and sneak a peak behind the tent-show flap/See what it gets ya if you like it like that/Hear the Penta-caustic choir wakin' the dead").

Take away all of the pulse-pounding, punk-energized Southern Gothic subject matter, and the Shakers would still be a killer blues band. With it, well:

"Set me up and watch me unwind/You can smell me comin' by the Listerine,/Witch Hazel, Vitapointe & Vaseline/Cause I'm a jumpin' Jim Dandy doin' a hillbilly boogaloo."

Amen, brothers.