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Chuck Wagon and the Wheels

Off the Top Rope – 2000 (Lyric Street)

Reviewed by Robert Loy

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CDs by Chuck Wagon and the Wheels

Mr. Wagon and his bandmates Cal Pye and Sid Sequin are founders of country and wrestling music. Accordingly, this poor man's Devo dress in 10-gallon hats, boots, huge WCW-ish belts and Everlast shorts. Their press kit is hilarious, complete with a fanciful history of the band ("sold over 30 million t-shirts worldwide"), biographical background (Cal's favorite "pass time" is "morning, after coffee and a bran muffin") and musical insights (a drinking song on this album is meant to be "funny and lite") and enough typos to blow up even the hardiest spell checker.

Unfortunately, you don't get the press kit. All you get is the CD, and it's not near as funny. "Cupid" wherein the love-burned Wheels describe in graphic bloodthirsty detail what they'd like to do to the "stupid little naked baby" and "I Fell For You (Like a Turd From a Tall Horse)" are two catchy looks at the opposite ends of the love spectrum. The other cuts, though, are either one-joke riffs that don't hold up to repeat listening ("Play That Country Music, Cowboy") or merely adequate covers ("Honky-Tonk Man"; "White Lightnin' ") or rip-offs of other artist's words ("Beauty's in the Eye of the Beerholder," a line Kinky Friedman wore out a long time ago.)

Chuck Wagon's manifesto is "Country 2010" which, according to the press kit, arose from a nightmare Wagon had of the day when you can turn any rock or rap song into a country song just by mentioning the word "country" often enough. A chilling glimpse into an all-too possible future. But again, you don't get the press kit. What you're left with is a song that pointlessly and annoyingly breaks the record (45) for most uses of the word "country" in three minutes.

If you're going to do a concept album, guys, you've got to share that concept with your audience. Otherwise, you're never going to them in that headlock like you want.