Various Artists
The Dukes of Hazzard
Sony
2005
B+



this is the most potent soundtrack so far this year: a 40-minute assault replete with an amazing Jessica Simpson single, and Willie Nelson refusing any seriousness. The songs include the Allman Brothers Band 's "One Way Out" which gains speed, volume, and complexity, until a caterwauling climax; Stevie Ray Vaughn, whose voice is beautifully melodic even in the midst of a scream; and Lynyrd Sknyrd's “Call Me the Breeze,” which details the easy joy of "ain't hiding from nobody / Nobody hiding from me." Just for variety, the latter has a rousing piano part that starts gently, but by its end has the "burn the motherfucker down" tomcatting of a young Jerry Lee Lewis.

Then, just to make it truly strange, there’s the inclusion of pyschobilly gods Southern Culture on the Skids. Their song, “Soul City,” shares a mythical paradise with the B-52s, where "it don't matter if yr pants are shiny / If yr dick is big or yr dick is tiny / It don't matter if your wigs on straight / If you show up too early or party too late."

The album's landscape is not entirely paradise, though. The NAACP and Cooter, the original mechanic, are both boycotting. Cooter's boycott is mostly a preference for Catherine Bach's tits over Jessica Simpson. The NAACP, on the other hand, has an actual point.

Both uber-patriot Charlie Daniels’ “The South Gonna Do It Again” and Montgomery Gentry’s “Hillbilly Shoes” are the major sticking points: the former being an assertion of the South’s dominance and the latter part of a long line of Southern joints about the North’s social and media persecution. One wonders, though, if the NAACP could simply see past the rhetoric and realize that both Daniels and Gentry are talking about culture that their complaints would simply disappear. Included on the soundtrack to a movie based on a television show that lasted six seasons, had three TV movies, constant syndication, and a huge Hollywood remake that made 30 million on its first weekend, it’s hard to believe that there is a war of northern aggression going on in popular culture. If there is, they surely aren’t fighting it very well.

All of this bombast appears odd next to Jessica Simpson's cover of “These Boots…,” a tour de force performance of sexuality unleashed. The fifteen seconds Simpson takes to insert her own narrative transgresses as many genres as Cowboy Troy did on an entire album. One could write a master's thesis on these fifteen seconds, but my favorite line contained therein is the couplet, "Can I get a handclap / For the way I work my back," giving a bit of added resonance to the rumored anal adventures that her and Knoxville engaged in on the set.

Willie Nelson seems all shook up, at least, covering the theme near the end without his usual stoner drawl. It moves faster than almost anything Nelson has done—illustrating that choosing him over Shooter Jennings, Waylon’s son, was the right decision. At 70, it sounds like Nelson is more interested in pop desire than people half his age.

Nelson bookends the album with redneck jokes, attempting to establish a jocularity with the listener: "the Jessica Simpson single, Willie Nelson singing a hyper-mediated white trash anthem, the rest an album of Redneck Rock, it’s all a joke." To that one attempt at subterfuge, I ask how something as serious as the 36-hour meth high that is Ram Dam's “Black Betty” be a joke.

But aside from Ram Dam, you get the best single of Jessica Simpson's career, a rampaging hour of the best of southern rock extant, Willie Nelson making the Duke Brothers more than hicks, and a Montgomery Gentry song that should be on everyone's radar. This hangs together with skill of a curator, unlike the movie that it soundtracks.


Reviewed by: Anthony Easton
Reviewed on: 2005-08-16
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