Music » Livewire

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.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Cleveland Scene. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Cleveland Scene, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club for as little as $5 a month.