Country music has a long and rich tradition of cornball jokes calculated to make audiences laugh and groan at the same time, and few if any acts mined this vein with greater results than Homer & Jethro. No one would ever accuse Homer & Jethro of having a subtle or sophisticated sense of humor, but their twangy parodies of various country and pop hits (and equally goofy original novelty numbers) revealed a genuine gift for prodding the funny bone, and it certainly didn't hurt that Kenneth "Jethro" Burns and Henry "Homer" Haynes had the good sense to make themselves the butt of their own joke more often than not. Even more importantly, they were both top-notch instrumentalists, and those who chose to listen past the gags were treated to some superb picking, especially from Burns, who later would show off his chops on a series of fine recordings with David Grisman. While most of Homer & Jethro's many albums for RCA Victor were frustratingly hit-and-miss, America's Song Butchers: The Weird World of Homer & Jethro is a superb compilation which pulls together 20 tunes which represent the duo at the top of their form, including their best-known hits (such as "Baby, It's Cold Outside," featuring June Carter, and "The Battle of Kookammonga") and a few choice obscurities (a silly but beautifully played version of "Misty," and a dead-on parody of the Beatles' "I Wanna Hold Your Hand"). Funnier than the entire series run of Hee Haw, and featuring nearly as much good music, America's Song Butchers is easily the best introduction to the clown princes of Nashville. A word of warning: don't play this around small children, or they'll be subjecting you to their favorite cuts on a regular basis for days on end.
America's Song Butchers: The Weird World of Homer & Jethro Review
by Mark Deming