FINE...FORGET IT - Hellstomper (Steel Cage)
The swansong from these redneck punk rockers from the Deep South sounds more polished than "The Real Hillbilly Motherfucker". While slickness of any sort doesn't suit this stuff, it's not to say that these good ol' boys have wiped all the vomit from their bottom lips and taken up croquet. There's still enough of a scummy, rocking edge to keep any self-respecting knuckledragger interested.

As you might guess, there's nil subtle about Hellstomper. If song titles like "Baby's Outta Jail" and "4AM (Out of Beer, Drunk and Staring at Your Picture)" don't give the game away, nothing will. Now you can take this shit with a dose of salt and a generous slug of whisky or you can rip into it for all the trucker cap, wifebeater-wearing cliches you can find. If you don't mind, I'll fall onto the ironic side of the fence in this case, even if it's a line-ball decision sometimes. I much prefer this stuff to the Allman Brothers or "Sweet Home Alabama".

The distortion might be turned down this time around but Matt Reynolds still swings on drums and King still plays the role of wild-eyed, lank-haired psycho singer to perfection. "Baby's Outta Jail" is the pick for mine, Sweet GA Brown showing off his guitar chops to best effect.

It's all slightly country-fied, mid-tempo punk with little embellishment. Of the odd men out, "4AM" manages to be a ballad. A baker's dozen tunes here, about liquored-up and loose women, hookers, killings and drugs. You expected something different?
Maybe the songs were better on the album before or my first taste carried a novelty effect with it, but "Real..." leaves "Fine..." in the shade by a short half head. Which doesn't make it half bad.

While there are no more shows, most of Hellstomper have reformed as Polecat Boogie Revival, playing southern boogie (natch). Can't keep a hillbilly motherfucker down. - The Barman

2/3

THE REAL HILLBILLY MOTHERFUCKER - Hellstomper (Steel Cage)
Listen up, rednecks. Never heard of Hellstomper? Think Rose Tattoo with cowshit-encrusted straw on the soles of their boots and the smell of their sisters on their breath and you're close. No slide guitar or Angry throat gymnastics but the attitude is the same, albeit with a shitload of sledgehammer country inflections.

This is 21 songs of drinkin', tootin' and rootin' (and you can put the Australian translation on the latter) from a purty good Tennessee quartet who sound every bit as down and dirty as you might imagine. Cowpunk as a far more rowdy aural assault than The Johnnys ever mounted, but with the tongue every deeply implanted in the cheek. It's a re-mastered re-issue of an album, the treatment of which by their former label they weren't happy with. (It was Man's Ruin - the same guys that left the New Christs high and dry just before their implosion, so we'll happily name them).

Judging by their looks, Hellstomper aren't the sort of guys that a label wants to cross. They have way better beards than ZZ Top, and are built like brick shithouses. OK, appearances might be deceptive and they may just be a bunch of pussies who like French knitting and show tunes, but I ain't trying them out by knocking off their trucker caps. No, siree.

Anyway, the folks at Steel Cage have done all they can to placate Hellstomper by tacking on five acoustic tracks from a radio live-to-air, just to give you extra value. With titles like "If I'd Killed Her When I Met Her", "Another Goddam Drinkin' Song", "Sumbitch", "All Pilled up" and "Cock Fightin' Saturday Night", this record is, of course, as subtle as a pig in a playpen. And much funnier.

Granted, the lyrics do read like a Hicksploitation flick (a charge denied in the thoroughly entertaining liner notes) and I'm not sure if the Hellstompers are playing it entirely straight or strictly for laughs, half the time. But that's a cool way for a band to be. You might as well chuckle when you're getting your head stomped by a toothless giant in a biker bar.
Plus, they sound like they like a drink. A lot. Hell, I know we namecheck Rolling Rock in our ratings of these albums but these guys go one lower, in my opinion, with an ode to Pabst Blue Ribbon (a bitch of a beer the morning after, if you drink 40 of them).

You just gotta love a lyric like: "'Cause it's a cock fightin' Saturday night/Me and my cock and we're feelin' right/Put the loser in a gunny sack/Head back down to Georgia on a southbound track".

Sweet GA (Georgia) Brown is a revelation on guitar, kicking up a storm while vocalist King (credited with "Sore Throat") takes out his trailer park frustrations on his own vocal cords. There's also a cute cover of The (other) King's "Burning Love" that works a treat. The acoustic tunes are a bit of an anti-climax, considering what's gone before, maybe with the exception of the hidden "San Francisco Bay Song", which is sure to offend middle class sensibilities.

My nomination for house band on Springer, Hellstomper come across as more credible than most of Jerry's guests (I'd even have a stab at guessing that none of them have had sex changes), and much more rocking. - The Barman




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