There’s an awesome sense of power and familiarity about Dereconstructed, and that’s only the first appealing thing about Lee Bains III and The Glory Fires‘ sophomore album (first for Sub Pop). It’s impossible to hear this album and not be reminded of the original stable of signings to Fat Possum; they were old blues players from the rural South (Holly Springs, Mississippi) who had already been playing for decades unnoticed by the music industry and doing it more for love and money than financial security. When Fat Possum discovered them, the plan became to preserve this music and make sure it was not lost to time. Label president Matthew Johnson got artists like R.L. Burnside, Junior Kimbrough, T-Model Ford and CeDell Davis into the studio and they, in turn, presented a ragged take on the blues which often meant that technique came second to feel and emotional delivery and, for a couple of years, those players got their due, deservedly. That style has faded from sight a bit now, as the original artists signed to the Fat Possum label have passed on (of the artists listed above, only CeDell Davis is still alive), but one listen to Dereconstructed proves that those albums did not fall on deaf ears; they got heard and inspired another generation of players.
All of the raw power in the original roster of Fat Possum artists explodes forth renewed and hotter than hell as “The Comany Man” blows Dereconstructed open. Right off, listeners will know there’s no going back as Eric Wallace carpet bombs everything before him with sheets of ear-splitting, blues-driven guitar, and the Williamson brothers just try to keep a four/four rhythm under him to make sure the song doesn’t just melt down.
Words don’t begin to do the sensation of that sound justice – just suffice it to say that it’s beautiful; hearing “The Company Man” for the first time is like hearing “No Fun” by The Stooges for the first time: inspirational.
The wild-eyed, inspired feeling listeners get from “The Company Man” doesn’t fade after the song ends either. In fact, it keeps getting stronger because the songs only get better. Each successive track on Dereconstructed gets a little more dangerous, memorable and awesome as the band unloads them. It’s easy enough to pick out hints of the rock royalty that The Glory Fires probably call influences – there’s a bit of Keith Richards’ guitar style in “The Weeds Downtown” and “The Kudzu and the Concrete” sounds like Creedence Clearwater Revival on amphetamines, while “What’s Good and Gone” lays a bit like The Black Keys and, of course, there are remnants and sonic aspects of Iggy and The Stooges cast into most every corner of every song – but all of those comparisons take a back seat to Bains and his band as each song works up to a fever pitch and casts listeners around frantically before spitting them out starry-eyed and waiting to get wept up and along again by the next song.
By the time “Dirt Track” finally spits listeners out and leaves them behind (until they start the record again, of course), the starry-eyed look on the faces of those who have gone front-to-back with Dereconstructed will be permanent – they’ll be knocked senseless, twitterpated and aching for more. Because of that, we can only hope Lee Bains and The Glory Fires won’t be long in either getting out and around or back into the studio for another round. Those touched by Dereconstructed will need more – this record is just phenomenal!