Wednesday, January 9, 2008

T. Tex Edwards & Out on Parole - "Pardon Me, I've Got Someone To Kill" (Saustex 2007)

Thom "Tex" Edwards has led a storied career - drop in just about anywhere and you're going to find something interesting. His Dallas based punk band The Nervebreakers may have played the first punk show in Dallas in 1977. They opened for The Sex Pistols at The Longhorn Ballroom in 1978. The Nervebreakers also backed up Roky Erikson in 1979 at The Dallas Palladium. By the end of their run in 1981 they were considered the biggest band in Dallas. "Move It", a staple of Tex's SoCal based rockabilly outfit Loafin' Hyenas, was recorded by The LeRoi Brothers. Those are the high points. That's a pretty solid career right there for an underground musician. But after all this T. Tex, for all intents and purposes, went solo.

"Pardon Me, I've Got Someone To Kill" was initially released in 1989 on Sympathy for the Record Industry and, after an all too brief flash as a "novelty record", slowly faded into obscurity. Hearing the remastered re-issue of this record (plus one unreleased track) is like a breath of fresh air for those that appreciate the below the radar, native Texan country music that displays an irreverent love of the genre.

This record is T. Tex paying a kind of twisted tribute to country songs about prison, murder and excess that span decades. Not that many of these songs need much more twisting. Most stick to traditional country arrangements and instrumentation, but that's by no means the whole story. You get Edward's take on The Bugs' 1964 freakshow "Strangler in the Night", which has lyrics penned by Albert DeSalvo, AKA The Boston Strangler. The version on this record far out does the original, with Edward's manic spoken word vocal over placid, almost Hawaiian music a paragon of sheer lunacy. Then you have the cover of Porter Wagoner's (remember him? He launched Dolly Parton's career) already exceedingly strange "Rubber Room" which, unlikely as it may seem, adds an endearingly psychotic charm to the song. Also standing out is Eddie Noack's "Dolores", bringing in a latin 8ths beat and a distinctively Western feel.

I could go on and on about the unique spins T. Tex Edwards puts on songs by everyone from Johnny Paycheck to Lee Hazlewood to Country Swing pioneer Howard Crockett, but it's better left for you to explore for yourselves. While this record is certainly de rigeur listening for late night booze and drug fueled parties, it's also a blast to listen to just about any other time. Fabulous Thunderbirds/LeRoi Bros. drummer Mike Buck's production does a wonderful job of conveying the sense that the wheels could fly off at any second while Edward's appealingly loose vocal melodies keep everything strung together. These guys clearly had a lot of fun making this record, and it's infectious.

In my research for this review I ran across quite a few write-ups decrying this record for treating what are essentially dark topics in a jocular and irreverent way. I couldn't disagree more. Poking fun at the darkness is one of the most positive ways we humans deal with the bad cards we get dealt and the insanity pervasive in the world around us. As many a Texan has been heard to say, "Gallows humor - without it we'd all lose our lunch."

T. Tex Edwards' stuff, along with much more, is available at

Rating: 4 out of 4

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

tex edwards saved my life -- twice in one day. it was a long day. we went out to lake austin where some friends had a rooster that looked like leon redbone, it was just another typical austin day, but some fool was taking a run at my Mustang convertible, and mr. nerves of steel outdrove him. he also played a mean game of trivial pursuit.