Staring At The Divine

Alabama Thunderpussy

Relapse Records, 2001

REVIEW BY: Jason Thornberry


Upon gazing at the cover, I considered the possibility that Alabama themselves had gotten back together and unearthed a follow-up to 1993's Cheap Seats. I opened the CD booklet to see an unshaven horde gazing at me from a moonlit thicket, as if to ask, "Whathefuck are you doing in our woods anyway, city boy?"my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

No, this doesn't appear to be Jeff Cook, Teddy Gentry and friends, and instead of a well-rehearsed "Tennessee River," they're equipped with songs called "Whore Adore," "Beck and Call" (which isn't actually about Beck), and "Amounts That Count" (not a James Brown cover either).

Alabama Thunderpussy are from Richmond, Virginia, where there is an apparent shortage of razor blades. Whenever I see a chap with a beard I almost instantly assume that it smells like what he last ate. So, for some peculiar reason, while Johnny Throckmorton is singing, I'm imagining a plate of steaming chili. I probably think too much. I'll also suggest that you not do the same when listening to this. Worrying about whether or not A.T. are in the right century, much less the correct decade, will keep you from reaping any of the benefits of Staring at the Divine.

Instrumentally this is really quite interesting-almost like Trouble with Kathleen Hannah's younger brother on vocals. Throckmorton apparently has a bad taste in his mouth, and his lyrics frequently do an elongated turn at the end of each phrase, just like hers.

I'm taking on plenty of points for big, big the guitars, and Alabama Thuderpussy's obvious sense of humor too. The last time I heard this many cool, weird, memorable riffs was on Time Does Not Heal (1989) by Dark Angel, which was so stuffed with carpal-tunnel fretwork that I found myself head-banging one morning and unintentionally put my forehead through my brother's teeth. This album is a bit too deliberate for such displays of affection.

Ted Nugent joins the Black Heart Procession onstage for a medley of "Release My Heart," "Motor City Madhouse," "A Boy With No Tongue," and "Cat Scratch Fever." The only five guys who saw that show are in this band, and, aside from the missing trumpet and accordion, this is pretty exact.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2003 Jason Thornberry 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 Relapse Records, and is used for informational purposes only.