Listen Up: Wednesday, January 16, 2003
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
The Immortal Lee County Killers II

Love is a Charm of Powerful Trouble (Estrus Records)

By Ken Shimamoto

Punking up the blues wasn’t a new idea when the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion broke the card in 1992. Even before that, Austin punk éminence grise Tim Kerr dabbled in something similar with Poison 13 and Monkeywrench. (Of course, the Stones did it first on Beggar’s Banquet.) Post-JSBX, faster than you could say “Wang Dang Doodle,” everybody and his sister was getting into the act: Twenty Miles, Big Foot Chester, the Soledad Brothers, the overhyped White Stripes, the Black Keys, Mr. Airplane Man, etc.

My fave among this bunch has long been the Immortal Lee County Killers, led by ex-Quadrajet member, liquor store employee, and doctoral candidate Chet “Cheetah” Weise. Alabama blueschild Weise got pulled into punk by his love of noise and climbing on top of things — refrigerators, amplifiers, bars, the fountain at Austin’s Casino El Camino. The “II” in the band’s name comes from the ILCK getting a new drummer, ex-Quadrajet J.R.R. Token, who replaces Doug “Boss” Sherrard, the main man behind everything since ILCK’s debut, The Original Fucked-Up Blues (2001; also on Estrus). Personally, I preferred the Boss’ hip-hop DJ-like approach to the trap set, but that’s quibbling.

There’s not much subtlety or finesse here, nor is there anything as strong and startling as their reimagining of “Catfish Blues” from the debut. They do almost pull off that same trick on an Otis Redding chestnut, in “That’s How Strong My Love Is.” (For a garagey take on ’60s soul, try the Detroit Cobras’ Rachel Nagy — this former stripper has the pipes to do it.) One thing you’ll definitely notice about this disc: ILCK show signs of giving in to O Brother, Where Art Thou-ism with a relatively straight reading of the bluegrassy “What Are They Doing in Heaven Today?” Mercy!


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