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Kiss My Grass – Hayseed Dixie

Dualtone 80302-01136-2

A tribute album is a lot like a lobotomy: a god-awful event. Given the
recent surge in the Pickin On Series, the ubiquitous label who
decides we all need bluegrass versions of every conceivable band, I
approached Hayseed Dixie with caution.

A bluegrass tribute of KISS sounded like a train wreck, with a split in
space-time rendering the incident a contorted mess.

Then I remembered the Bad Livers. When they first began playing around
Texas, they were covering Motorhead, playing acoustic instruments as fast
and as loud as their electric counterparts. When the Bad Livers performed
Motorhead, they did so with remarkable sincerity, bordering on twisted,
comprehending the intricacies of the lyrics and music; paying homage in
merely an acoustic manner.

Warming to the idea, I began listening to Hayseed Dixie. The first thought I
had concerned how ribald, risquand in general lascivious KISS were. With
electric amplification and expensive production, one can forget that a song
like "Christine Sixteen" discusses the desires for coitus with an underage
girl. When Hayseed Dixie harmonize on the chorus, singing, "I knew, that day
I saw you leaving school, I just had to have you," suddenly a tribute didn't
seem such an exiguous endeavor.

Actually, I found myself liking KISS, a band I have more disdain for than
any political leader in the free world. Their misogynist ways, their jaded
lifestyles, only made me consider their music a heinous attempt to convert
our society to some Roman hedonism. In the hands of Hayseed Dixie, in the
tradition of bluegrass, KISS work becomes tales of debauchery and sincere
regret. If KISS were to cover "Little Maggie," for example, the piece would
no doubt be about an inebriated grope-a-thon. Somehow the bluegrass spirit
tempers and molds the reading, a tribute to Hayseed Dixie's firm grasp of
bluegrass and emulating emotion.

Not to go overboard on this tribute album issue. I feel the chances of
avoiding a lobotomy again open me to unnecessary risks. I do have my limits,
after all.

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