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Asylum Street Spankers

Tuesday, November 22, at the Beachland Tavern.


Mercurial, the most recent studio platter from these unamplified Austin roots-music revivalists, is a cover record and a good one, thanks to a couple of unexpected twists. Amid the sort of mid-20th-century blues, R&B, and swing fare you associate with the Spankers -- Bessie Smith, Ivory Joe Hunter, the Boswell Sisters, and the like -- comes a sudden surprise: After the opening instrumental bars of a cowboy-jazz/jump-blues number, singer/washboard man Wammo hollers, "My name's MCA and I got a license to kill/I think you know what time it is/It's time to get ill." "Paul Revere" has never been on a ride like this Beastie Boy boogie, and the tune ranks up there with Molotov's punkified "Girls" remake "Chavas," the Flash Express' Velvet Underground-ish reworking of "The Message," and, of course, the Gourds' hoedownification of "Gin and Juice" as one of the very best rock remakes of rap tunes. (Also committed to the Asylum for Spankings are the B-52s' "Dance This Mess Around" and Jim Carroll's "People Who Died.") Even so, there has always been something about the Spankers' hipper-than-thou, stoner-slacker vibe that we can't abide.

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