How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
R.L. Burnside’s Ass Pocket ‘o Whiskey was a college radio smash for Fat Possum Records, the Oxford, Miss., label that specializes in crude country blues. Paul Jones’ Pucker Up Buttercup seems directed at the same audience. Like most Fat Possum artists, Jones hails from the hills of northern Mississippi. His rugged guitar playing is heavily distorted on many of these tracks, and his singing is marked by a lot more attitude than on his widely praised debut Mule. The distortion and naughty lyrics might appeal to fans of the Beastie Boys and Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, but blues purists should probably steer clear of this release. Jones’ sole backing here is provided by a drummer named Pickle whose playing is clumsy, even for loose country blues. Fortunately, Jones takes control with his wild vocals and oddly effective guitar work. I warmed up to this music after repeated listens, but the mixing lends some cuts a murky industrial-rock feel. Consequently the main audience for Pucker Up will be youthful fans of alternative blues-rock.