Loud And Plowed And... Live!!

Beat Farmers

Curb Records, 1990


REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Let's talk about missed opportunities today. I remember I was given the chance to interview a San Diego-based band, the Beat Farmers, when I worked in college radio. This was too good of an assignment to pass up - I had just been turned onto the band due to their then-latest release, Loud And Plowed And... Live!! and was eager to meet the band - especially Country Dick Montana. However, at the last minute I gave the interview to a friend of mine who seemed even more eager to meet them.

Not only did I never get a chance to meet the band, but with the on-stage death of Montana in 1995, I never got a chance to see this band in action. Rats - if this album was any evidence of their power onstage, it is a great portrait of a powerful but struggling band. It also is damning evidence against radio stations and promotional departments for not giving this band the attention they deserved.

Recorded on New Year's Eve in San Diego, this album paints two different portraits of the Beat Farmers. One is a portrait of a band who have learned the skill of writing catchy rock numbers, and learned it well. The three "serious" members of the band - guitarists Jerry Raney & Joey Harris and bassist Rolle Love - had their riffs down well and knew how to spin them. Songs like "God Is Here Tonight," "Riverside" and "Hollywood Hills" all serve as evidence of a band that did not deserve to be forever relegated to bar-band status.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

But on the other hand, you had the looming presence of drummer-cum-vocalist Montana, whose deep bass vocals became somewhat of a novelty for the band. Who else could have pulled off performing songs like "Lucille" or a bleeped-obscenity version of Neil Young's "Roll Another Number (For The Road)" and make them so damn funny? One not to be missed is a rendition of, aaah, the classic number "Happy Boy," a song which is both funny and sick - also check out the opening number "California Kid."

And in one sense, it may have been this duality of the group that hindered them from all-out popularity. Relegated to a then-tiny label (since thrust into the spotlight courtesy of Leann Rimes) and not neatly fitting into any type of musical genre, I doubt that the good people at Curb Records knew what to do with these guys after they signed the deal. (Yes, I know they originally recorded on Rhino.)

Ah, there's the rub. If their own record label isn't sure what to do with the act, radio sure as hell wouldn't. This, kids, is a good reason why you don't hear the Beat Farmers mentioned in the same breath as, oh, say, the Rembrandts. (Special attention should be given to WRCX-FM's Lou Brutus, who does occasionally grace the airwaves with the odd Beat Farmers track, though it would be interesting to hear what he would do to "Happy Boy.") (Editor's note: Talk about dated... Brutus is no longer a Chicago DJ, and WRCX-FM is long gone.)

There are only two weaknesses I can find with Loud And Plowed And... Live!! First, for the typical person who stumbles on this one (or when it's thrown at you by the station's music director with the directive to listen to it), it may be a little much to process. So many new songs by a new band to your ears, this is an album you may want to divide up into several listens. I find breaking the album into portions helps intensify the power of some tracks.

Second, I know that Mojo Nixon was a friend of the band and he co-authored the track "King Of Sleaze"... but does he really have to get up on stage and perform it with them? I've never been a big Mojo Nixon fan (though a professor friend of mine in college was a drooling fan), and I find this to be a distraction to an otherwise great album.

I made the mistake of not meeting Montana and crew when I had the chance, but at least I still have this album to serve as a memory of what could have been. If you see this one laying in the used record store bins, don't make the same mistake I did - grab it while you can.

Rating: B

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 1997 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Curb Records, and is used for informational purposes only.