The Pleasure Barons

Live in Las Vegas

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The type of entertaining, take-it-as-it-comes one-off that musicians who aren't afraid of appearing unserious excel at, the Pleasure Barons brought together three kindred souls: Mojo Nixon, Country Dick Montana, Dave Alvin, and various compatriots. Indeed; recorded in front of an audience happily along for the giddy ride, Live in Las Vegas gives the trio a chance to play around with their familiar styles in a flashy show biz way, not to mention indulging in some apt and hilarious covers. The backing band strikes the right balance between the principals' rootsy rave-ups and just enough Glitter-Gulch-glitz, and from there it all just flows from one number to the next. Nixon mostly concentrates on his own songs, delivering up the likes of "Debbie Gibson is Pregnant" and "Louisiana Lip Lock" with aplomb, but a take of "Elvis Is Everywhere" has never been more perfectly appropriate, while his freakout through Jerry Reed's "Amos Moses" even more so. Alvin has the soberest (of sorts) selection, though his take on "Gangster of Love" makes for a fierce highpoint. Perhaps unsurprisingly. in the end Montana rules the roost, his alcoholic suaveness perfectly suited for a demonstration of same. Besides penning the entertainingly combative liner notes, Montana more than anyone else probably took the ethos of partying hard to its logical extreme. He delivers mind-boggling, lyrically tweaked covers of "Take a Letter, Maria," "Who Do You Love," "Jackson," and most logically of all, "The Definitive Tom Jones Medley," which takes "It's Not Unusual," "Delilah," and "What's New Pussycat?" to a sublime level of hypercheese. Montana himself is pictured in the liner notes shaking hands with Tom Jones (aka the Creator), personally (blessing) the ceremony, and it's that kind of affectionate embrace of all that is Vegas which makes this album worth one hundred showings of Swingers.

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