Long Way Blues 1996-1998

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In a career filled with oddities and left-field takes on old-hat forms, Bassholes' Long Way Blues 1996-1998 is easily their oddest and most left-field effort. A collection of non-album cuts and other bits and pieces collected along the way, it starts with the soundscape (read: tape running in the room collecting odd conversation and words spoken) and old school hip-hop of "Big Carnival Overture (With Deejay Tard)" and ends with a cover of the the Sonics' wailing, poison-espousing classic "Strychnine" (here retitled and appropriately rewritten as "Turpentine"). In between, Bassholes indeed travel a long way to get back to rock & roll (or blues as the case may be). One of the advantages of being a rock duo is, perhaps, that one doesn't have to play by the same rules as more typically structured outfits. And Bassholes take full advantage of that notion. Guitarist, singer, and songwriter Don Howland and drummer Bim Sherman here have made a record that sounds like a couple old, freaked-out friends interpreting the history of rock through their record collections without leaving the living room. Sherman appears only occasionally on the record (at least smacking the skins in his trademark so-tight-it's-loose way). The results of this Bassholes experiment are stunning, disquieting, often dark, and often funny. The title track conjures Iggy Pop playing blues in a port-a-john. "Knocked out on My Lawn" is a classic of the "what if Lou Reed had grown up and stayed in the Midwest" variety, and the following track, "Joan Dark," does Reed one better. A baker's dozen departures from whatever listeners have come to expect of rock, blues, or Bassholes, Long Way Blues hits home.

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