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Charlie Pickett

Bar Band Americanus The Best of Charlie Pickett And – 2008 (Bloodshot)

Reviewed by Brian Baker

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CDs by Charlie Pickett

In 1985, Bloodshot Records owner Rob Miller experienced the blissful rush of a Charlie Pickett gig when the Florida guitarist brought his blues/country/classic rock aggregation to Ann Arbor, Mich. where Miller was a UM student. Dutifully transformed by that single exposure, Miller finally pays the experience forward by releasing a compendium of Pickett's recorded work with his two anarchic bands, The Eggs and the MC3.

In much the same way that the Kinman brothers launched Rank and File too early to catch the eventual country punk wave, Charlie Pickett was similarly too far ahead of the curve to attract the attention he deserved. With both of his outfits, Pickett created a steaming musical gumbo that deftly combined the visceral invention of the original blues masters as well as their high energy translation at the hands of the Rolling Stones and The Yardbirds, with spices as disparate as Lou Reed, Brother Wayne Kramer and Gram Parsons thrown in for counterpoint. Throughout their short history, Pickett and his groups mixed their influences like bathtub liquor and swaggered and romped through the resulting recipe with drunken abandon, from the Velvet Underground-on-country-heroin nod of Liked It a Lot to the Exile-on-A1A shake of Get Off on Your Porch and Marlboro Country to the Rank and File harmonic adrenaline of In the Wilderness to the MC5's-Detroit-meets-Jim-Dickinson's-Memphis raunch and roll of Penny Instead.

If "Bar Band Americanus" comes across as a bit uneven, it's merely because Pickett covered a lot of ground in his brief run (he's an attorney in Florida these days and still plays out a couple of times a month) and the gamut of his output is represented here. Under different circumstances, in a more sympathetic atmosphere, Charlie Pickett could have been a big damn deal, but with the right response to the vibrant and still relevent "Bar Band Americanus," it might not be too late at that.