O.B. McClinton's Live at Randy's Rodeo (1973)

If I’m flipping through a dollar bin and find a sealed copy of anything, I freak out. I get aroused. I can’t even listen to it, inspect it, check the condition, read whatever shit is written on the inner sleeve. It’s a blind purchase based on no one else wanting to buy this record for the last 50 years. Heaven tastes like shrink wrap. Fuck me, I’m dead.

If you see this record out there in the wild, buy it. Just put your money on the counter and go straight home. Thank whatever fake god it is that directs your good fortune and drop that needle down, kid.

What are you in for?

Black country singer with a competent backing band? Check. Chatty San Antonio audience trying to figure out what the hell this is? Check. Lots of awkward crowd work? Oh fuck yes. And McClinton delivers on every level: self-deprecation, stupid local references, funny country voices, and a genuine love of country music that wins over what had to be a skeptical audience. Wait, did they edit the crowd applause in post and make it seem like this was going better than it probably was? Uh huh.

Okay, yeah, Charley Pride had been doing this for a couple years already, and hey! O.B. McClinton is not a novelty act, you watch your mouth! There are very real pleasures here, like the version of “Kiss an Angel Good Morning” buoyed by some good STAX rhythm, then followed by a shitty Elvis impersonation during which a drunk heckles the singer and might (might?) yell the n-word. That’s drama.

What do you want to hear? Tame Impala? Loser.    

Phil Shaw