Kinky Friedman

Sold American

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Although Kinky Friedman has become better-known for his best-selling mystery novels than for his music, the country music renegade and self-proclaimed "Texas Jewboy" was one of the '70s' most iconoclastic and memorable performers. A singer/songwriter with a degree in psychology, a Peace Corps stint on his resumé, and a wicked sense of humor, Friedman was adept at raising either eyebrows or hackles with songs like "High on Jesus" and "Get Your Biscuits in the Oven and Your Buns in the Bed," but songs like "We Reserve the Right to Refuse Service to You" and "The Ballad of Charles Whitman" (about the military-trained sniper who shot and killed several people from the clock tower at the University of Texas while Friedman was a student there) show that he was more interested in smart alecky social commentary than cheap shocks and sensationalism. Indeed, the provocatively titled "Ride 'Em Jewboy" is actually a moving statement of Friedman's religious and cultural faith. The album's highlight, however, is the aching title track, the high point of Friedman's entire musical career. A sympathetic portrait of a down-and-out former country star dying on skid row, "Sold American" is a sad and lovely tune with an indelible chorus. Chuck Glaser's production throughout is low-key traditional (largely acoustic) country with a few folk and even fewer rock influences; Billy Swan, Norman Blake, and John Hartford are among the guests. This is by far Friedman's best album and a classic of '70s outlaw country.

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