While there's enough cussin', pickin', and hard luck livin' here to rival any outlaw country or David Allan Coe record of the era (well maybe not Coe, but still), this set's full title of Rob Zombie Presents...Banjo & Sullivan: The Ultimate Collection 1972-1978 is a tip-off that it might not be exactly what it says it is. And sure enough, it's not. In the run-up to Devil's Rejects, Rob Zombie's sequel to the 2003 horror throwback House of a 1000 Corpses, Zombie commissioned Austin, Texas songwriter Jesse Dayton to bring the music of Devil's Rejects' characters Adam Banjo and Roy Sullivan to life. The finished product plays like the fictional honky tonk duo's last will and testament since, as the plot reveals, they bought the farm at the hands of the film's murdering psycho-freaks. Leave it to the ever-creative and slightly obsessive Zombie to actually release this record -- the better to solidify his movie's back-story. Helping Dayton bring Banjo and Sullivan to life is actor/roustabout Lew Temple, as well Dayton's usual band of banjoist/pedal-steel player Brian Thomas, drummer Eric Tucker, bassist Elmo Sproat, piano and organist Riley Osbourne, and fiddler Erik Hokkanen. They get credit for not pulling very many punches. Besides the (very) '70s artwork featuring banjos and nude pinups, there are songs like "Dick Soup" ("...Valet and champagne/Fried chicken and cocaine/But no hookers in the end/Just a hot tub full of men..."), "I'm at Home Getting Hammered (While She's Out Getting Nailed)," and a honeymoon reverie that veers wildly into S&M. Sonically, the music is drawn from honky tonk, trucker music, Southern rock, and the Bakersfield sound -- it doesn't sound like any one thing, but it sounds enough like all of them to get the point and period across. "I'm Trying to Quit, But I Just Quit Trying" is the requisite drinking song (and features some great tempo changes), "Roy's Ramble" is a nice-enough instrumental, and the closing cover of "Free Bird" adds a gentle waltz with mandolin and swirling pedal steel before recasting the breakdown as a hyperactive bluegrass stroll.
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AllMusic Review by Johnny Loftus