Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Neo-70s Country of Whitey Morgan

Posted By on 10.12.10 at 05:48 PM

Whitey Morgan and the 78s
  • Whitey Morgan & the 78's
Whitey Morgan & the 78's, a 70s-style country combo from Flint, Michigan, mention the auto industry in a couple of songs on their new self-titled album—their debut for Bloodshot and second overall, it arrived in shops today. One tune's about yearning to leave Flint ("Buick City"), and the other's about finding work there in better times ("Hard Scratch Pride"). For a band unabashedly obsessed with country music's past, they don't seem too concerned about writing lyrics that "sound" country—when they sing about drinking, it's never moonshine—and that's just fine with me.

As if you couldn't tell by his beard and leather vest, Whitey Morgan (ne Eric David Allen) is fascinated with the "outlaw" faction of country. He sounds more than a little like Waylon Jennings, the electric guitar lines are often flanged, and the band plays a new song given to them by Dale Watson called "Where Do Ya Want It?"—a romanticization of a 2007 incident in which Billy Joe Shaver got into a barroom argument, stepped outside with his victim, and asked him that question before shooting him in the cheek. The band also covers "Meanest Jukebox in Town" by another notorious badass, Johnny Paycheck. The quality of Morgan's lyrics doesn't yet match the quality of his voice—he basically quotes from a bunch of old George Jones tunes on "Turn Up the Bottle," and on "I Ain't Drunk" he sings, rather obviously, "I told him I ain't drunk / Hell, I've only been drinking." Still, it’s a strong record celebrating an era that's generally been passed over by alt-country revivalists. Morgan's band backs him up with gusto and precision, and Larry Campbell turns in some terrific slide-guitar cameos.

Below you can check out the aforementioned "I Ain't Drunk":

Morgan's been hanging around town since late last week; he played the Country Music Festival and FitzGerald's on Friday, and he's doing an in-store at Laurie's Planet of Sound pretty much right now. He'll close out his visit with a free show Wednesday night at Reggie's Music Joint.

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