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Les Claypool’s Duo de Twang – Four Foot Shack

2014 ATO Records
Les Claypool's Duo de Twang - Four Foot Shack

A band like Primus ever attaining a string of gold and platinum releases is sadly a feat likely to never again be repeated. Let’s face it, no one wants to discount a long shot, but those are some pretty slim odds. From their rise to prominence to their present lessened (commercial) appeal; the band somehow thrived as an ugly duckling.

Duo de Twang is a direct extension—if not a down home celebration—of that legacy. An even odder progeny birthed by Primus frontman/bassist Les Claypool and M.I.R.V. guitarist Brian Kehoe.

Four Foot Shack” chiefly finds the duo paring down a series of Primus and Claypool staples to their quirky core. Largely acoustic with a bluegrass tilt, the two provide rubbery arrangements perfect for a bayou porch.

Nearly every rendition is a foot stomping romp through kooky Americana replete with slippery bass heroics, skittish chicken picking and the backwoods troubadour antics Claypool is revered (and reviled) for.

The Primus staple “Jerry Was A Race Car Driver” in particular gets a rousing dose of buoyancy, with a feverish tempo and a wily bit of elastic playing laid down by both parties. It’s always easy to play the hits though.

The real surprise is the way some of the cuts from Claypool‘s solo bows fare in their reimagined form. Some will likely find that songs such as “Red State Girl“, “Rumble Of The Diesel” and Boonville Stomp” are even more bombastic and engaging here than in their original incarnations.

With Claypool at the helm humor is never far behind. In fact, the wry take on Alice In Chains‘ “Man In The Box” might well have been satire had it not been laced with such playful goofiness. You can also almost hear Claypool‘s crooked grin beaming through as he reanimates the Bee Gees‘ disco anthem “Stayin’ Alive” with cartoonish delight.

A loose funkified take on “Amos Moses” by Jerry Reed appears again (Primus covered it on “Rhinoplasty“.) But it’s reappearance feels like tribute, as a lot of Kehoe‘s work on this effort could have very well used Reed‘s playing as reference material. Likewise for the cover of the late Stompin’ Tom Connors, a man whose entire catalog might as well get a ghostwriting credit here while we’re at it.

As a complete package, “Four Foot Shack” offers a rollicking good time where the listener can have as much fun as the musicians playing it. A bit left of a field for a band that was already off-kilter, the same mantra still applies to Duo de Twang—it either sucks, or it sucks!

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