A couple of the Country Teasers’ mid-90’s recordings for Tim Warren’s glorious Crypt imprint can be described as particularly harsh collisions between the rollicking, ramshackle nature of the early Fall and a downright evil lyrical worldview that could rival that of the brothers Flemion, Dennis and Jimmy.
Subsequent recordings for the Fat Possum label struck this listener as a tad smoothed over and not nearly as awe-inspiring (though not entirely without merit). Then again, I might have mixed them up with the Gin Blossoms.
In any event, the newly released ‘Live Album 1999-2004’ (In The Red) is a fantastic collection of careening, collapsing rock’n’roll that has me wondering what else I’ve missed the boat on in Country Teasers-land. The originals are crammed with malice, soul and tape hiss. The covers — alternate universe classics by the Butthole Surfers, Brainbombs, New Order and Randy Newman (a stirring rendition of “Short People” spliced together from 3 different gigs in 2 different countries) are given new life. Well, some of ’em are. The hit or miss ratio is pretty good, though, much better than if you were growing up with Ryan O’Neal as your dad.