Song of the Week: C***sucker Blues, by Beasts of Bourbon

Song of the Week: C***sucker Blues, by Beasts of Bourbon

Sometimes fate steps in.  A couple weeks back, Matt was in L.A. working on songs for the new album.  I had heard that Amoeba was having a garage sale, supposedly focusing on major deals on vinyl so I suggested Matt meet me there for a major dive-in.  On first arrival, the place seemed a bit wack.  Many of the better records were in “prices as marked” bins, and the dollar bins featured LPs that were scratched beyond any kind of usefulness.  But after the initial shock wore off and we spent a little more time, the golden nuggets started making themselves known.

In addition to many (I mean MANY) copies of Madman Across the Water, every Babys album known to man, and tons of Asia cutouts, we started to amass tidy piles of keepers.  I splurged on some Dwight Twilley, Golden Earring, and Larry Fotine & His Beale St. Buskers, among others. Matt grabbed some Go-Gos, Warrant, and heaps more. But then I found the CDs. The deals were a little less cut-rate here, but the selection was sorta top-notch.  I quickly scooped up a heap and one of the more unusual finds was a MOJO compilation CD called Bad Seeds: Nick Cave: Roots & Collaborations.  I’m a longtime Cave fan and the track listing was intriguing enough so I figured that, at the very least, I’d get some good old blues shit I’d never heard.

Low Life

Low Life

On first listen, I dug what I was hearing. One song in particular stuck out, but it wasn’t until the second spin that I really knew that I was hearing an exceptional performance.  Mick Jagger and Keith Richards wrote “Cocksucker Blues” in 1970 as a final fuck you to Decca records, delivering it as their last single.  Unsurprisingly, it went unreleased, though its legendary status meant that it sneaked out in various forms over the years.  Beast of Bourbon formed in the mid-1980s as the result of a ramshackle session with a handful of players from some big Aussie indie rock bands.  They made some albums, but I had only heard of their singer – Tex Perkins – from his albums with You Am I’s Tim Rogers (remember him, folks?).  Their version of “Cocksucker Blues” was recorded in a 2003 live set, later released as the album Low Life.  Where the Jagger/Richards version of the song seems a bit tongue in cheek, the Beasts deliver it as if it was their own, and indeed Tex screams it out as if it were his very life story, as if he were a lonely rent-boy, trolling around Melbourne looking for a bit of satisfaction and maybe enough cash for a bag of smack.  It’s brutal from start to finish and, like a Flannery O’Connor story, irresistibly compelling.

The album – in physical form – is out of print, or at least very expensive, but I gave the whole thing a listen on Lala and just had to buy it digitally.  Great, great rock and roll performance.

Caveat: I know this is not for everyone. Parental advisory and all that. This is rock and roll, folks.

Beasts of Bourbon - Low Life - Cocksucker Blues