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Men of Extinction’s “We Made It Ourselves”
The cover photo, which l think l’d seen before, made me HAVE to review this one. Not too long after l saw it was on Cool Groove, l realized that means Jim Colegrove - longtime BSN subscriber - is behind this very cool looking CD! There are 18 musicians listed, but l don't think all are playing on every track. The opener “Bubba Louise” has a Rockabilly feel, but includes steel guitar and maracas. “Evolution's Not Fast Enough For Me” has a Country feel. “l Used to Think It Mattered” has a Rock‘n’Roll shuffle feel with accordion. You hear a banjo in “Jane's Name is Jane,” though Jane’s name is now James, describing a much more common situation than most of us ever imagined. The banjo appears again on “Lap Band Dance,” along with the accordion and a dobro, much more easily classifiable as Country music, with a Polka beat. This is an eclectic but very interesting collection of songs! “Trapped in Amber” is a nice slow Country song, with an interesting lyrical perspective. l guess in the end this is a Country album, with side trips in different musical directions. After all, those are not Cowboy hats on the cover! l never made myself one of those aluminum colander helmets, but there’s still time! “Sorry, I Thought You Were Someone l Knew” brings in a fiddle and has a Western Swing feel and reminds one a bit of Cornell Hurd’s songs. That one’s my favorite! “You're My Baby” has a bit of a Jimmy Reed feel. “The Bible On Her Lap” is straight ahead Rock‘n’Roll with organ, and another of my favorites! “Golda Mae Hill” has kind of a ’20s Pop feel with trombone, and a wild theme. Another eclectic CD for the adventurous! The last track opens with a skipping surface noise on a 78 and becomes “The Message,” sounding like a Carter Family track from the ’20s or ’30s
These “Men” are Roscoe West and Jim Colegrove, founder of Fort Worth’s Juke Jumpers and Lost Country and veteran of Ian Tyson's Great Speckled Bird, with a session resumé encompassing Todd Rundgren, Stephen Bruton, and Allen Ginsberg. With Colegrove expertly handling multiple stringed instruments, their dozen eclectic co-writes range from novelty to protest - rockabilly, country, doo-wop, uncategorizable, mighty fine.
If the wacky cover isn’t hint enough, one glimpse of titles like “Lap Band Dance” or “Evolution's Not Fast Enough For Me” on We Made It Ourselves by Fort Worth honky tonk veterans Jim Colegrove and Roscoe West should be enough to warn the casual listener that hilarity and mirth ensue just ahead. But this is not a comedy album comedy album per se, as Colegrove and West drop witticisms that drip with caustic, occasionally unpleasant truths. With an assemblage of ace Fort Worth players, the Men doctor their wacky worldview with top-shelf playing that would be the envy of any country band. Highlights include the philosophical musing “I Used To Think It Mattered” and comi-tragic Western swinger “Sorry, I Thought You Were Someone I Knew.” “Trapped in Amber” drips with lush, sad steel guitar while “Leave It To Me” has a swamp pop Louisiana lilt driven by tinkling piano and dirty saxophone. Old-timey final track “That's Love” ties a nice but slightly fractured hillbilly bow on what’s one of the best surprises in Texas music in 2015.
—William Michael Smith
Wonderfully crafted in every way.... from your package design to the songs
y'all wrote, to the players... was laughing to myself (and out loud),
'this is a drinkin' record for educated baby boomers', but then it would
switch gears... like i said, will take several more go 'rounds to hear it
all...it must feel great to produce something so good, congrats!
—Connie Beth Graves
The dynamic duo of Jim Colegrove and Roscoe West — bills its new album, We Made It Ourselves, as an “alternative protest album,” which might make listeners think of ’60s unrest or Occupy Wall Street-style agitation. It’s soon clear the description is a tongue-in-cheek assessment of these 13 wonderfully woolly tracks. “I can’t get used to the future/It’s coming up too quick,” goes one lament, as Colegrove and West sing drolly of love and time’s passage, all filtered through the acknowledgment that, well, things just ain’t like they used to be. They’re joined by several local luminaries: Jeff Dazey, Ginny Mac and Brook Wallace turn up throughout.
BUY THIS RECORD.
The cover says it all, sports fans. Music from what very well could have been the period which produced awe-inspiring photos such as this one used on Men of Extinction’s album jacket and others locked into memory whether we like it or not—the guy with the jet pack, the rocket car, Minnie Pearl, raccoons riding tricycles, freeways with no cars on ’em, Betty Page. You know. Science fiction of the backwoods variety. Hollywood loved it. They built stars around this stuff. Ever see Faron Young act? Neither have I, but I seen him in a movie oncet. Played a sheriff. Give him a badge and everythin’. But I'm strayin’ here. Point is, the cover says it all....
Look at the album cover again. That’s what’s on the inside, too. A whole string of tracks recorded in a variety of styles with tongue(s) in cheek. You can tell by song titles. “Evolution’s Not Fast Enough For Me,” “Jane’s Name Is Jane” (bet you can’t guess where that one is going), “Lap Band Dance,” “Trapped In Amber.” Songs to curdle your beer! Lyrical legerdemain worthy of Homer if not Homer & Jethro! Instruments played, alone or in tandem!
Take, for instance, the aforementioned “Jane’s Name Is Jane.” It starts that way, true, but it morphs as it progresses and in the end, Jane is no longer Jane. Not only that, James is no longer James! My God, how do these things happen?! No, it's not a slam on gender change. It is a statement that, over all, it does not matter! Speaking of which, they have a song titled “I Used To Think It Mattered,” too. “Bubba Louise” I shouldn’t have to explain (partially because I am still trying to figure it out), and “Golda Mae Hill”—we all had our Golda Mae’s, didn't we?
Some damn fine playing on the album, too! I only know a few—Colegrove’s wife Susan (vocals), Roscoe West (vocals, guitar), Linda Waring (drums, vocals), Ginny Mac (accordion), Jim Milan (bass)—but I know all of ’em now! Flashes of Pee Wee King and very early Bob Wills (Doughboys era) and even Bobby Bare and Tom T. Hall who have been known to pull off a good one now and then their own selves. Of course, my favorite songs involve the pedal steel and Jim got David McMillan and Tommy Spurlock to pedal away and forgive me if I get a mite misty here, it’s such a lovely instrument....
—Frank Gutch, Jr.
Where do I start? It’s like shooting fish in a barrel.
Their easy, confidential, close-to-the-vest
sinister humor leaves you looking for the body. It may be yours.
You want to feel futility? Get hermetically sealed as a fallen Pharaoh on
“Trapped In Amber.” (They finally do let you out).
It’s the first cross-over album that explains everything
Durable as denim, in its tunes,
Yet—Do the right thing. Now pay these pipers, for such a dream-escape
this album delivers.
—Van Dyke Parks
Listening to “WE MADE IT OURSELVES” right now, I am diggin' the heck out of it, keep on making great music.....and thank you for making it!
You never know what Jim Colegrove’s going to get up to next. Last time out, the once and future Juke Jumpers/Lost Country honcho was revisiting his roots with an instrumental rockaroll album. On this latest outing (which, like its predecessor, is Amazon-available), he's teamed with fellow singer-songwriter-guitarist Roscoe West, familiar of Kinky Friedman and T-Bone Burnett, who, in a previous life (as Bob Barnes), played bass in the Elite, Paschal High School’s answer to the Beatles, and later, in the Yellow Payges, an L.A.-based Yardbirds-Who derivation that we even heard of as far away as Lawn Guyland. Together, the two men have come up with nothing less than a 21st century Meercun version of the Kinks' masterpiece, The Village Green Preservation Society — albeit from the perspective of a couple of geezers who actually possess the world-weariness that 20something Ray Davies only affected.
Lyrically, Colegrove and West survey the absurdities of life here in the Future with a mixture of bemusement and droll wit. “Evolution’s Not Fast Enough For Me” contemplates imminent ecological disaster in a manner reminiscent of Billy Sherrill-era George Jones, replete with weeping steel guitar and fiddle. “I Used To Think It Mattered,” an Eddie Cochran-esque rocker, catalogs the mundane litany of petty concerns from our info-overloaded age. “Jane’s Name Is Jane” examines gender reassignment, while “Lap Band Dance” ("“..played by the Lap Dance Band”) has some fun with physical fitness fads. “Sorry, I Thought You Were Someone I Knew” presents a classic dilemma in bouncy Western swing style, and “Trapped In Amber” is another country weeper, on the subject of stasis. “Bible On Her Lap” is a tongue-in-cheek character study worthy of Chuck Berry.
An auspicious pairing, and another welcome communique from the man whose band I saw more than any other my first couple of years in Fort Worth. If you love American song and periodically consider closing your Facebook account because you find the uncivility of the discourse upsetting, We Made It Ourselvescould be right up your alley.
This Album/CD is the Best — I am listening right now and floored it is so great — the music and arranging is brilliant - the lyrics — poignant and humorous and just plain my kind of connected words. Get it — get two and then get some more to give away as gifts so others can listen to the real deal - The reason music is trying to make its way back to music and these good friends have accomplished that !! Kudos - 5 Stars and then 10 stars and turn it up to 11. I rest my case.
Your album defies compliments: words fall short of just how truly great
and original it is. Every time I listen to it, the lyrics paint rich and
vivid scenes that remind me of my childhood, my adolescence, as well as
some of my favorite novels by John Fante, Cesar Aira, James Baldwin, Zora
Neale Hurston, and Roberto Bolano. I can see the worn upholstery with
the hand-crocheted yarn blanket on the chair in the parlor with its
yellowed-mauve wall paper, a murky tank full of guppies nearby, a tennis
match on a telly buried under a stack of Sunday morning crossword
puzzles — where she sits with “The Bible on Her Lap” for example; I can smell
the first fall leaves after a light rain in “Trapped in Amber”; I can smell
spilt beer and sweat as I move past a pool table toward a dimly lit
hallway to find a ladies room with a door that doesn't quite close
properly, and amateur sharpie-marker scrawled walls in “Sorry, I Thought You
Were Someone I Knew”; for example. I love it. Congratulations!!!
My wish now is that this new music you guys have written burns a hole through all the unworthy eardrums of America. In any case, you guys are masters and I know you will be appreciated BY THOSE WITH THE EARS TO HEAR YOU.
I just wanted to tell you how much I love your album.It is brilliant, and there is nothing like it out there. I can’t even believe how good it is. I have listened to it a number of times now, and have a page of notes on my yellow lined little ledger detailing some of the elements I love most in each song. It is a masterpiece.
I've been meaning to write to you for many weeks to tell you how
fabulous your CD with Roscoe is. My favorites are;
"I Thought You Were Someone I Knew” and “Bible in Her Lap.”
“Trapped in Amber” should join the pantheon of American dirges. So many sweet, poignant
tunes. You've got your proverbial fingers on the pulse of this very sick
and desperate society. I agree with Erin Currier; it's a Masterpiece. Onward!
Very hip new album from Jim Colegrove and Roscoe West and assorted wackos. Music for smart folks.
—William Michael Smith
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