With a personnel list that is 23 people strong and cover photos that look like a backyard BBQ at some remote forest commune, you would be forgiven for thinking (as I did) that this album was going to be some nightmare hippie love-in field recording. Starting the disc off with some a cappella, Buffy Sainte-Marie-style female folk chanting sure didn't help matters. Stick it out for almost a minute and a half and what you are greeted with is the sound of a fuzzed-up guitar, a rollicking blues-rock rhythm section and a horn section that would make the members of Rocket From the Crypt green with envy.
What does bleed over from the communal ideal that the cover presents is the unified force of the many voices that make their way onto several of the songs. On the in your face soundtrack to your next gang rumble, "Well Fuck You Then," the beginning melody is given a door opening "Whoa!" sung by a chorus of kids. The title is chanted throughout by a group of adult singers that push the song into a fist-pumping, all-for-one frenzy. Although it's hard to tell who does what on this disc (apart from front man Jim McHugh's straining, Southern rock vocals), there is a female vocalist that pops up now and then that adds the perfect soulful counterpoint to smooth out some of the rougher edges of the group's rugged sound.
The joyful, unified feeling that comes out through the vocals is something that keeps this album from sinking under the weight of its musical ideas. The dirty rock with lyrics that mix the sacred with the profane probably would have worked just as well without the ebullient choruses and group aesthetic, but it is those qualities that lift the music to even greater heights. Considering all the drug references bandied about on the record (song titles including "Angel of Meth" and "One More Trip"), it wouldn't be out of the question to assume that McHugh and his friends are trying to approximate those kinds of highs. And, like your intoxicant of choice, you can be sure that the effects of this CD will linger on long after the high has faded away.