This is one of the CDs I inherited from my late Uncle Don Don. I always wanted the first Jackyl for two songs: “She Loves My Cock” and of course “The Lumberjack”. Now that I finally have it, I thought it would be fun to review it “live” on first listen. The first thing to notice is that all of the songs are under five minutes.
Jackyl, starring Jesse James Dupree on lead vocals and chainsaw, signed to Geffen at the tail end of the hard rock era in 1991. It wasn’t too late though as Jackyl scored a platinum with their 1992 self titled debut. Even though they never reached those heights again, Jackyl have continued on to the present day with relatively few lineup changes.
With a song called “She Loves My Cock”, you can probably understand why why K-Mart refused to stock this album. In protest, Jackyl filmed their video for opener “I Stand Alone” in a K-Mart parking lot. An AC/DC vibe is imminent, but Americanized with shout-along chorus. Dupree certainly has the Brian Johnson pitch and grit, as well as certain vocal inflections. Good track, solid groove, great catchy solos. The shouted bits are dated, but the song is otherwise pretty slick.
Then Jesse James starts squealing about a “Dirty Little Mind”, a sleazy rocker with more of the shouting, and then it gets really dirty. Not a classic in any universe, but it sounds like it would be fun singing along in a bar. A stuttery riff, like those popularized in the late 80s and early 90s, starts off “Down On Me”, catchy midtempo heaven with a soulful southern slant. Apparently “Down On Me” was their biggest charting hit, even surpassing “The Lumberjack” and “When Will It Rain”. I remember “When Will It Rain” from the music video, a darker and stormier concoction. It seems an unlikely single, but thus far it’s the most serious track. Certainly more serious than “Redneck Punk” which sounds like its name. Sped-up punk beats infused with a Dixieland vibes. And then as if to make the “redneck” point even further, it’s “The Lumberjack”. I love found objects in music as a general concept, and it’s awesome to hear a sleazy rock band like Jackyl executing such highbrow concepts, going as far as to play an actual chainsaw solo and still keeping it musical. The contrast of the highbrow with the brutally juvenile lyrics strides that ever-so-fine line between clever and stupid.
It sounds as if this would be a natural place for a side break, as “Reach For Me” has a completely different vibe. A choppy riff and dynamic verses really set up a cool song. Without missing a beat we’re on to “Back Off Brother”, a tough little number with a minimalist riff. “Brain Drain” has a slightly funky feel emphasized by the cowbell. Not an album highlight, but a strange cross between AC/DC and Def Leppard. Dupree expresses a clear preference for alcohol. “It’s not the ‘caine, not the Mary Jane, but the golden grain.” It’s good to know what you like. A slick one called “Just Like the Devil” starts to wind things up with a tough riff and speedy beat.
Finally and wisely the album ends on “She Loves My Cock”, the track that got them banned from K-Mart. There are clean versions of this CD available without the song, but what’s the point? This album without that song like like a sentence without the exclamation mark! The lyrics are not repeatable here but you can use your imagination. Fortunately there is a solid foundation to this heavy track to support the ridiculous words.
And that’s the album, thoroughly enjoyable with minimal filler. I could probably live without “Brain Drain” and “Dirty Little Mind”, but stuff like “Reach For Me” and “Down On Me” are like newly discovered treasure. A good album that stretches out just enough, but never exceeds its ambitions. Jackyl wants to be a party album with humour and balls, so that’s what it is. It couldn’t exist without AC/DC or gasoline-powered wood-cutting implements, and there are few albums you can say that about.