Boys Named Sue

The Hits Vol. 1 (Crow)

Country music has always found room for both the shitkicker and the guy who falls in shit. Even Buck Owens and Roy Clark suffered through the cornpone of Hee Haw and actually made a haul poking fun at rural folk. Walking that line between humor and oafishness hasn't proved easy, but the four local roustabouts known as Boys Named Sue join the ranks of Mojo Nixon as authentically amusing purveyors of rustic music.

The Hits Vol. 1 is as tongue-in-cheek as its title suggests, a ballsy, stupid collection of country that stumbles to the finish line like a pre-rehab Johnny Cash (RIP). Yet while juvenile romps such as "Honky-Tonk If Yer Horny," have, in the past, drawn the most attention, it's the more traditional country rock that serves notice on this latest release. "Lucky With You" and the fiddle-driven "Travelin' Down" are downright plaintive expressions of emotions performed without a hoot or a holler within earshot.

"Friends till the end/Or at least for the weekend," front man Sue-Ay sings to his bottle of whiskey in "Amber Friends," coming across as a lovable loser in the vein of Paul Westerberg. While certain to confuse those fans accustomed to the Boys making hillbilly heaven out of the Pixies and Violent Femmes, Hits is a success for having the guts to allow a little seriousness to invade the moonshine-induced festivities.

 
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