Cledus T. Judd

Bipolar & Proud

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Lawyers probably put the stop to it, but up till the last minute, Cledus T. Judd's 2004 release was entitled Cledus Gone Wild! The cover still shows signs of it, but past that and one truly dismal song, Bipolar and Proud should sit proudly in Judd's more hit than miss catalog. Riffing on Toby Keith's "I Love This Bar," "I Love NASCAR" is one of Judd's best and should be a staple of pre-race tailgating parties for years to come. Showing he's a good sport, Keith's short guest appearance adds to Judd's spot-on lyrics. Top drivers get their due, the overabundance of sponsors is noted, and "you can't hear a dang thing once the flag drops" is so true. It's the instant favorite, but it's amazing how clever rewriters Corey Lee Barker and Lee Gibson heard Tracy Lawrence's reflective "Paint Me a Birmingham" and turned it into the hilarious and unexpected "Bake Me a Country Ham" (the cooking tips in the lyrics are actually pretty good advice). One of those rare but great "answer songs," "Paycheck Woman" asks Gretchen Wilson's "Redneck Woman" to get on the stripper pole and bring some money home (and to ignore those Baptists protesting outside). Written by Floridian Brent Burns, "I'm Going Ugly Early Tonight" is the great non-parody song on the album, with Jimmy Buffett-styled wordplay and attitude. "_ is Funny" is the song that doesn't belong, not so much for its juvenile snickering at doody and poop, but because it's another one of those "Look at me! I'm old, white, and rapping!" groaners with horribly rinky-dink production. Despite some last-minute changes and one crap track (couldn't help it), Bipolar and Proud is prime Cledus.

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