Lest you think Robbie Fulks has any doubts about releasing performance recordings, he opens Revenge! with a bizarre barbershop quartet skit (“We’re On The Road”) introducing his incessantly touring band and explaining the premise behind his two-CD live album: The record company needs new product—fast and cheap.
The gag is typical of Fulks’ joshing humor and oddball sense of self. But, while a jokester, Fulks is no joke. On Standing, the first album of Revenge!, Fulks throws in Bocephusesque country and western alongside fast-paced whooping and hollering pathos fit for Springsteen (“Let’s Kill Saturday Night”). Standing may refer to the band’s posture but might as well apply to the audience for all the trouble you’ll have staying seated.
Sitting, the second disc, takes a mellower tone. A few acoustic guitar instrumentals appear, including the experimental ditty “That’s A Good Enough Reason” and bluesy cum zydeco fingerpicking of “President Garfield’s Hornpipe/Suza.” Sitting sports a folksy feel to counter Standing’s swing, even while throwing in a nearly un-ironic rendition of Cher’s “Believe.”
While that cover is surprisingly soulful, in the end Fulks can’t keep the grin out of his voice. Listening in, you’ll have as little luck keeping one off your face. (Jason Wiener)
Robbie Fulks plays Sean Kelly’s Thursday, Feb. 7, at 9 PM. Tom Catmull opens. $15.