Immediate, chaotic, potent, and infectious as the clap, Barrence Whitfield and the Savages come out swinging on Under the Savage Sky.
Kicking off this album feels like that scene out of Caddyshack when the caddies get to use the Bushwood pool from 1:00pm – 1:15pm.
Something infinitely more exciting is happening in your life once Barrence and the band get involved in it. It’s like a motorcycle gang is suddenly whipping shitties in your living room. You knew something was missing in your life, but you weren’t sure what it was.
Now you do.
“Incarceration Casserole” and “The Claw” perfectly illustrate what this band is all about.
Did you catch that? This smoking hot party in your speakers is out now. Today. Go get it.
Under the Savage Sky opens with some nasty guitar riffing on “Willow”, and Barrence informing the listener that, “It’s no sin, my baby, to lose control”.
“I’m a Full Grown Men” is perhaps better thought of a 2nd opening track. It takes full advantage of horns, and falsetto screams. If there was any doubting (there wasn’t), Barrence is a full grown soul man. He’s a punker, and he isn’t here to fuck around. He’s been around. He knows how to get shit accomplished.
“Do the claw, stop flapping your jaw”, so begins “The Claw” that is also the latest dance craze; amongst the cooler folks. Don’t worry about getting worn out. The track clocks in at just a shuffle over two minutes.
“Adjunct Street” is a noir-y slow burner with some of Barrence’s best growling. There are some outstanding warbling guitar parts while the full grown man laments, “so tired of living on Adjunct Street, where you can’t get no whiskey neat.” There is some real pain in pondering the difference between being cursed or just misunderstood.
The next track, “Angry Hands”, has a passing similarity to Alice Cooper’s “Eighteen”. “Angry Hands” is muscular, and brass-knuckle tough, with some slippery lead guitar parts matched up with wild sax squalls.
It was right around “Bad News Perfume” that my wife, Anna, who is almost always right in these matters, said, “this sounds like it should be in a John Waters movie”. It is wonderful rave up, and I can totally hear it.
If you don’t love a song that begins, “she had a hollow leg, knew how to make me beg”, then I just don’t know how to help you. “Katy tried to kill me with a clip on tie. Katy didn’t care, so why should I?” You know what? Skip “Katy Didn’t”. It is too good for you.
The lonely, gnarly guitar that opens “Incarceration Casserole” is a great couple of seconds, but when it explodes with its freight train rhythm and driving sax you will want to run around your place shirtless.
All woozy, boozy stagger, “The Wolf Pack” howls its way into your heart. “I know you love me, baby, but you done me wrong”. What a shame.
On “I’m A Good Man”, Barrence lists some of his faults to a crackerjack backbeat. Faults be damned, though, he is a good man.
“Full Moon in the Daylight Sky” continues the themes of the last track. It finds Barrence drinking from a flask, wondering why he had to be unkind.
“Why must I lie, why must I lie…”
I don’t know. We all lie sometimes, but isn’t singing about it a form of confession? Of telling the truth? I think so. Barrence Whitfield and the Savages’ work fills the pews on Under the Savage Sky, and in the end we all come out a little better than we were before. If not better exactly, a little more alive for bearing witness to a rare, true rock and roll revival.
Bonus from the Way, Way Back Machine:
Lead-In Image and Cover Art Courtesy of Bloodshot Records