When I first discovered Supersuckers back in 1999 (yup I admit I was a tad late to the game) via their inspirational ‘The Evil Powers of Rock N Roll’ album I really did believe that Eddie Spaghetti and the boys were like something approaching the second coming. They were an integral part of a hugely important and influential underground scene, and along with bands like Backyard Babies, Turbonegro, Toilet Boys, Nashville Pussy and Gluecifer, Supersuckers became one of those “go to bands” for those of us eager for a dose of proper punk rock ‘n’ roll music.
Fast forward two decades and after many ups and downs all the way Supersuckers are still thankfully very much a going concern. Granted frontman/bassist Eddie Spaghetti is the only remaining member from that ‘Evil Powers’ album, but just being able to write that is a huge positive in itself given his battle with stage 3 throat cancer just a few years ago. Standing alongside Eddie since his return have been Marty Chandler on guitar and Chris Von Streicher and on 7th February 2020 they unleash their 13th studio album in the shape of ‘Play That Rock ‘N’ Roll’.
Those familiar with Supersuckers’ past two records (2015’s ‘Holding The Bag’ and 2018’s ‘Suck It’) might be wondering which path the band have wandered down to record ‘Play That Rock ‘N’ Roll’ given that the trio are as equally at home writing country tinged laments as they are penning skin shredding punk rock anthems, and when you also discover that this album was recorded in Willie Nelson’s Texas studio you of course might be forgiven for assuming it would be very much a set of songs soaked in Southern influences. But hold your horses right there folks because ‘Play That Rock ‘N’ Roll’ is very much a rock ‘n’ roll record, albeit its one that at times sees something of a shift in the Supersuckers sound that I for one was certainly not expecting.
So, of the dozen tracks included here two are cover versions. First up is a rocked-up version of Allen Toussaint’s boogie-tastic ‘A Certain Girl’ and then there’s a faithful retelling of Michael Monroe’s ‘Dead Jail Or Rock N Roll’. It’s the ten originals where the real sonic surprises lie though. Take lead lyric video and album opener ‘Ain’t Gonna Stop (Until I Stop It)’ for example, this track (along with ‘Deceptive Expectation’) really do sound so much like outtakes from ‘Tattooed Beat Messiah’ that I’m scouring the accompanying PR sheet half expecting to find a Manning co-write, and these new song writing influences don’t stop there either, as both ‘You Ain’t The Boss of Me’ and ‘That’s A Thing’ make me wonder if Mike Chapman and Nicky Chinn might have somehow been tempted out of retirement for one last throw of the dice, and these tracks alone almost have me half tempted to dub this album ‘The Evil Powers of (other people’s) Rock N Roll’.
The Supersuckers sound of old is still very much still alive and well though, especially in the shape of the hook laden ‘Getting Into Each Other Pants’ and the furious ‘Bringing It Back’, whilst the swaggering ‘Play That Rock ‘N’ Roll’ sounds like its fallen straight off a New Orleans bar stool. Elsewhere ‘Last Time Again’ bears all the hallmarks of the sonic overload I saw the band deliver live at Helldorado back in 2018, leaving the heavy as hell duo of ‘Die Alone’ and ‘Ain’t No Day’ to walk a line somewhere in between ‘Going Blind’ and ‘Metropolis’ in the deeper cut album track department.
Whilst ‘Play That Rock ‘N’ Roll’ might not be the career-defining album I was so hoping for its still very much a fresh shot in the arm to a Supersuckers sound that some less clued-in people are still to discover, and who knows perhaps the tip of the hat to ‘Tiger Feet’ that is ‘That’s A Thing’ might just be what’s needed to deliver the mainstream success the band so justly deserve.
Buy Play That Rock and Roll Here
Author: Johnny Hayward