Asylum Street Spankers

My Favorite Record

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If the 1990s' swing revival drew heavily from older styles of jazz, it also drew from the jug bands that re-emerged during the mid-'60s. In fact, listening to Wammo and Christina Marrs exchange lines on "Monkey Rag" reminds one of the male/female combo that worked so well for the Even Dozen Jug Band. There's a particularly spooky, soulful take of Willie Dixon's "Insane Asylum" with Marrs and Guy Forsyth sharing the lead, and the duo also delivers a bouncy take on the title track. Other songs written and sung by Marrs, like "Breathin'" and "No Song Sad Enough," capture a similar feel. Asylum Street Spankers, however, also draw from the blues, folk, and neo-traditionalism, creating a multi-layered music that never sticks to one genre for long. Forsyth's "Whatever" is a particularly bizarre piece that starts out like a bad protest song, only to evolve into the tale of a man who's willing to adopt a politically correct philosophy in order to bed a love interest. Stanley Smith's "Mountain Town" and Wammo's "Wingless Angels" move closer to alternative country, with banjo, harmonica, and dobro accompaniment. While most of these forays work well, the overall impact of My Favorite Record is somewhat disjointed. Asylum Street Spankers sound less like a band than a loose association that fragments into several bands. While this fragmentation lessens the impact of My Favorite Record, fans of retro-swing will nonetheless find a number of things to like about the album.

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