Always distrust men who bang on about how manly they are all the time. Well, apart from me, obviously. I am really manly. Totally manly. Do-my-own-stitches-whilst-wearing-a-loincloth manly, in fact. You want a bear wrassling? call me. You want a guy who can drink moonshine for 9 hours straight before working a shift down at the steel mill? over here! It’s a good job for a sizable portion of the women of the world that I don’t consider kissing and telling manly. Oh yeah.
Steely-eyed hunk of beef that I am, the envy of men and the idol of women, I had been lulled into thinking that I was the pinnacle of all manlinessosity but I was humbled in November 2014 when I liberated three Blackfoot LPs amidst the spoils of a successful raid on a neighbouring tribe of barbarians, to keep my copy of Marauder company. I thought I was a man, but I was nothing but a stripling boy. Here were men. Men who worked hard*, played hard and sang it like they meant it, smashing any doubters over head with handy implements and instruments until they gave in and cravenly admitted the band’s utter primo manliness.
Tomcattin’ has become a firm favourite of mine in a certain mood**, it doesn’t quite have the songs and subtleties of Strikes, or Marauder, but there really is something awe-inspiring about just how effective a blunt instrument can be if wielded right.
Before anyone invented thrash and doom (properly) Blackfoot were always the heaviest of the southern rock contenders, there was more metal in their heavy and I also liked the way that they avoided the temptation to use every track to cheer lead for the south. True to form Tomcattin’ explodes right of the gate with ‘Warped’, it’s a bludgeoning rocker that has plenty of attack, possibly at the expense of tune, but hey no-one tells Rick ‘Rattlesnake’ Medlocke what to do! Then the quality immediately cranks up when the mean, strutting, slinky riff of ‘On The Run’ slithers out of the speakers – this is just such a great hunk of sweaty rock, with a cool compressed backing vocal too – real chest-beating perfection. The kind of music that makes you feel like you’re wearing nothing except a pair of backless chaps, work boots and a bandolier … or is that just me again? oops.
A couple of more average tunes boogie on by before ‘Gimme Gimme Gimme’ ignites things again. I would stress that this is, sadly, not an ABBA cover – Blackfoot do not require, desire, or (have reason to) acquire a man after midnight. True story. Again, this is a great two-fisted party starter. A song of the honest working man’s frustration at everything holding him back*^ (‘Gimme, Gimme, Gimme that’s all I ever hear / Ain’t got no money to buy me a beer’) which, as a suit-wearing desk jockey I can completely relate to.
Tomcattin’ rises to new heights of masculinity with the track ‘In The Night’ which begins with Rick Medlocke making a low, keening moan which one can only assume is his, undoubtedly successful, mating call; there are whole bands’ discographies, heck even whole genres that never get as unaffectedly manly as this. Witness:
Whoa milk and honey
She can have some other lovin’ too
Well I singe the sheets to a rock’n’ roll beat
Oh that turn a rock star blue
I suspect that this is one of them sex songs that I’ve read about. It’s also quite excellent, some wonderful slow-burning guitar, choppy rhythms and harmonica^, it has the feel of prime Bad Company, which is never a bad thing.
Tomcattin’ closes with the hobo yarn of ‘Spendin’ Cabbage’ and the rural metaphor-fest of ‘Fox Chase’ and all-in-all it is a good LP, rising to excellent on occasion, but somehow as a set it definitely rises to become more than the sum of its’ (manly) parts. Hell, things were good and simple way back in 1980.
You are now 23.27% more manly than when you began reading this post.
Post Post Rant: This bloody LP cover appears to have been fashioned out of pure Shinium, the shiniest element in the universe! I’ve done my best people, I really have!
PS: Thanks to HMO, without his generosity I wouldn’t own this beast of an LP.
PPS – Is it just me or is Spotify not embedding properly at the moment for some reason?
*probably using pick axes and other manly accoutrements.
**Just another manly Monday …
*^his woman and a businessman, both = bad news.
^provided by Shorty Medlocke, Rick’s grandpappy and frequent Blackfoot collaborator.