Loudon Wainwright III

Here Come the Choppers

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Iconoclastic singer/songwriter Loudon Wainwright III has taken about all he's going to from the Los Angeles Police Department and their helicopter surveillance program that haunts the urban skies. Here Come the Choppers is another collection of witty, acerbic tunes about ancestry, death, the perverse state of the nation and its culture, love and loss, and of course the whirring birds of the L.A. night skies. Wainwright is accompanied here by guitarist Bill Frisell, bassist David Piltch, drummer Jim Keltner, and pedal and lap steel master Greg Leisz, who also plays mandolin and electric guitar on the set. This is the same band that played with Frisell on his stellar Good Dog, Happy Man album. But don't expect much of the pastoral, open sky mellowness with Wainwright up-front. True, the proceedings may be low-key in places, but they are always poignant, and often funny. However, the most rewarding song on the disc is an elegy to the late Mr. Rodgers called "Hank and Fred." It's a moving tribute to the man and his "neighborhood" and places him in his proper place in the American cultural sphere, juxtaposing the day he died with a trip to Hank Williams' grave. It may read perversely, but the song is a gem, and one of the finest Wainwright has ever written. Here Come the Choppers may not win the songwriter many new fans, but because of its consistency and terminal uniqueness, it will certainly keep his fan base coming back for more.

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