Eugene Chadbourne

Country Protest Anew

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Even though Eugene Chadbourne's music is suitable for a crude, urgent treatment, fans of the good Doctor always appreciate it when he has the luxury of decently recording and fine-tuning an album. Recorded and mixed in five days, Country Protest Anew qualifies for such luxury (believe it or not!) and is a welcome addition to the man's still-growing list of song-based recordings. The title leaves no doubt about the political nature of the project, although the lyrics (Chadbourne's and the covered artists') are here less downright political than what could be found on the Doctor's early- '80s opus Country Protest. And yet, Country Protest Anew can be seen as the final result of Chadbourne's string of home-brewed protest albums following September 2001 (inaugurated with New War, concluded with I Support the Troops and I Want My Money Back). "Coward," the updated version of "Don't Burn the Flag, Let's Burn the Bush," and the Doctor's very personal rendition of Lauryn Hill's "Lost Ones" are all given superior recordings here, while the remaining covers and originals feel like they come from the same barrel of songs. Noahjohn is the backing group of choice for Chadbourne, providing genuine country arrangements while being able to stretch out and go crazy whenever the Doctor says the word (viola player Eena Ballard has previously appeared on some Chadbourne releases). Sound quality is very good, the arrangements are rich and often treading the fine line between heartfelt country tribute and satirical subtext. Highlights include one Karl Straub's "Backwards Town" (one of the funniest -- and cleanest -- set of lyrics ever recorded by the Doctor), the original "Family Tree," the aforementioned "Lost Ones" (Chadbourne at his rappin' best), Love's "Mushroom Clouds" (bet you didn't see that one coming!) and the Robison/Braniff ballad "Travelin' Soldier." The latter is given a moving treatment, proving once again that Chadbourne could be a successful country singer if he settled down a bit -- then again, we would miss his other personas. In short, Country Protest Anew is a clean-sounding set of focused songs (no improvisations, no outstretched solos), in a vein similar to Another Country and Texas Sessions, Chapter 2 (although slightly more daring than these albums).

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