(Yellow Dog Records, 2009):
Yes, as unlikely as it might seem, this is a gospel album from the Asylum Street Spankers.
Wait a minute. Is this the same band that loves to sing about sex (“Dirty Ditties” and “Nasty Novelties”) and drugs (“Spanker Madness’)? Why, yes it is, but of course, this isn’t your mother’s gospel music. In fact, the Spankers have described it as “the world’s first agnostic gospel album.”
And on their website, Austin’s infamous post-modern, back-porch junk band describes it like this – “our triumphant album of songs of faith, devotion and healthy skepticism, wherein we sing our asses off.”
Explains singer-guitarist-producer and co-bandleader Christina Marrs, “Gospel music is at the root of every genre we consider American. It’s the genesis of jazz and R&B and soul and rock ‘n’ roll. You can be a fan of gospel music without ever stepping foot into a church.”
There are the trad tunes like “Down by the Riverside” and “Wade in the Water.” Then there are the thoroughly original tunes “Right and Wrong” and the super-twanged “Volkswagen Thing,” penned by co-bandleader and washboard maniac Wammo.
Inbetween, the Spankers root around and come up with gospel gems from the songbags of everyone from Blind Willie Johnson to George Gershwin to the Violent Femmes. Altogether, the album is a little bit jazz, a little bit blues and a whole lot of funky country soul.
Shout hallelujah and God bless the Spankers.
The Asylum Street Spankers bring their Salvation and Sin Tour to rest at The Linda in Albany on Saturday, October 17.