CD Review: "Introducing The Whiskey Daredevils"

CD: Introducing The Whiskey Daredevils
ARTIST: Whiskey Daredevils

We didn’t set out this year to turn WVRockscene into OhioRockscene, but when there are bands we know about, and whose CDs we’ve rocked in the past, we are more than happy to take it any way we can get it.

At this point, the no frills cowpunk/rockabilly outfit The Whiskey Daredevils have released on average about one record a year since brothers Greg and Ken Miller, with drummer Leo Love, birthed the band out the side of The Cowslingers. Haling from Cleveland rock city, the Daredevils return with 13 songs and an awesome new guitarist (Gary Siperko) on Introducing The Whiskey Daredevils, a CD we were super stoked to get in the mail.

We were fortunate enough to pick up their Greatest Hits CD (their first, mind you) and catch them a few times at the Glass. Following up on the debut with The Essential Whiskey Daredevils and The Very Best of The Whiskey Daredevils, we were more than ready to be re-introduced to the new Daredevils lineup, rock the CD (their fifth full-length) out, and see how it stood up with what we’ve heard from these guys in the past.

They say the more things change, the more they stay the same. Well, that describes not only the songs on the new CD, but the Daredevils infectious mix of high energy cowpunk, rockabilly, and country; songs that would work great in a remade Dukes of Hazard TV series, or, maybe CHIPS.

Introducing The Whiskey Daredevils opens with “Never Saw Johnny Cash” as singer Greg Miller takes us all on a stroll down memory lane, as he recalls growing up, going to parties, getting to see Bob Dylan with Tom Petty, but, when Miller got his chance to see the man in black in the early 80’s, well, he ended up tying one on at a party, kissing a girl with a mustache. Talk about a letdown.

For us, and for the sake of the band, the Daredevils take stories of all the crazy, hilarious, sometimes even painful times, and turn ‘em into good times! Whether it’s getting busted for drugs (planted on you by your buddy) coming back over the Mexican border or falling in love with a Polish senorita at a Taco Bell, it doesn’t matter what, you’re getting a good time with the Daredevils.

“It Ain’t Him” is a harrowing (yet still fun) story of a poker game gone bad, where we hear Miller’s perspective of being on the wrong end of witnessing a crooked poker game with too many aces, a murder, and too many witnesses. “Left Me On a Train” is a broken-hearted ballad about being on the wrong end of the whole love thing, being left in a beat up Cavalier.

The meandering shuffle of “Thicker Than Wine” is Miller’s story of betrayal, returning from Mexico, running into los Federales, and having his buddy (half lizard king, half Rod Stewart) stash his cocaine in Miller’s bag, unbeknownst to him! Fourteen years in a Mexican prison, pining to be out running around with his buddy again, we find Miller (Elvis + Glenn Danzig = Greg Miller), on a song that sounds like something from The Cramps.

Miller sings on the chorus:
Jimmy was like a brother, blood thicker than the wine
I wonder where those days went, I think about ‘em all the time
I’m sittin’ here in this jail cell, I’m starin’ out the moon,
Jimmy’s runnin wild like a coyote, I hope to join him soon...
This song features some of the coolest guitar tones on the whole CD, as Siperko lays down some haunting echo-laden solos, creating a whole ‘nother, dark atmosphere on the song.

Are you a female barfly who may have abused the privilege of being on the guest list at the show? Have you become a little too used to getting all the free drugs and/or alcohol, well then “Last Guest List” may be bittersweet and a bit too biographical for your tastes, as Miller sings “I guess it’s plain to see, you’re no longer a VIP, your name and face don’t get you in the door.”

“West Akron Shakedown” has a more minimalist type rockabilly sound, as the Daredevils recall getting haggled for merch, offered pork pie hats and alcohol, heavy set girls falling into Greg’s mic and drunken brawls breaking out in the dead of winter. Of course, knowing the Daredevils, they’ll do it all over again.

Tommy “Hit Man” Hearns makes an appearance in “Me and My Black Eye” after a drunken night out and about leaves a shiner, with the real mystery being: how did it happen? Who knows!

“Senorita” opens with a minute-long Spanish flavored guitar intro, before Miller falls in love with the Polish girl who works at the Taco Bell. This song is a good example of the band incorporating a nice Spanish flavor into their country and/or western cowpunk stylings, with the hard rockin’ bridges, solos and choruses and all. You will think Esteban joined the band, or that maybe Siperko’s nickname is “fingerbang” or something.

If you’re wondering how to have a good time in the Red Light district of Hamburg, Germany -- without getting robbed -- “Going Dutch” will clue you Yanks in on how to do just that, while indulging yourself with various substances from around the globe (Turkish cigarettes, French champagne, and Spanish cocaine).

Siperko takes his turn writing on the hard rockin’ instrumental “Railbender” and we have the Daredevils getting their “Party Plates” -- their hard charging interpretation of Motorhead meets country. Leo Love apparently takes his turn singing on the ZZ Top flavored “Empty out the Shake” to close out the CD.

From Cleveland to Mexico to Hamburg, and back to Akron, Introducing The Whiskey Daredevils (released on Knock-Out Records) is a non-stop cowpunk thrill ride, and with the Daredevils’ new lineup and this great new CD, we’ll look forward to what these guys get into next.

mp3: “Thicker Than Wine” by Whiskey Daredevils

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