Badpuppy Gay Today

Tuesday, 07 October 1997


CD Review by Warren D. Adkins


This has to be one of the sweetest lil ol' albums ever produced. I say sweet, not smart. No, this music ain't hardly an intellectual's feast. Unless he or she's capable of goofing on kitsch, that is, and being one of them unrepentant-some-call 'em sinners-- which likely you are.

Then, perchance, you, you lucky soul, may remember an experience like mine, driving across the flatlands of rural Alabama. Yes, I recall a real ride I took singing hymnal selections with an Alabama boyfriend, the horny son of an Assembly of God preacher. Though hardly 20, I certainly felt I knew enough about lyrics to be won over—as I was by my shapely farm-boyfriend's backwoods ooom paa paa pizzaz. It was religious music made for a simpler time and place. SATAN IS REAL basks in this sort of farmboys-in-the-barnyard charm. You'll be won over in the haylofts of heaven and you'll want to own a copy. Does this mean you'll be converted?


It is just that these type church-in-the-wildwood songs leap from a questionable state of consciousness into the civilized world, suffused with a unique assurance that is truly astounding. It is so astonishing, in fact, that all of its drawbacks fade before an overwhelming realization that this kind of religiosity is, in fact, so simple, so gullible, that there's something strangely sweet about it, like there's something wonderfully sweet about kids who can't think very fast. You gotta jes love 'em, wanna squeeze 'em and make 'em feel everything's going to be OK. You know, like when Tammy Faye starts crying, or something. Hey, honey, don't lose it, nothing's wrong.

SATAN IS REAL trumpets biblical myths that power the starry, wide-eyed ways of such plains people, child-like locals in the boonies who, miraculously, live up to their highest human/divine aspirations, using these peculiar, clunky songs for their inspirations and backdrops.

We mustn't laugh at them. But we should be allowed to smile appreciatively with amusement even, at least that's what I do. But I must admit, that when I hear the cornball accents of the Louvin Brothers, Ira and Charlie, especially if I'm all alone, I break into a big grin and then laugh out loud. Almost nothing in American culture is more ridiculous than these songs, I finally feel forced to admit. They deserve to be listened to widely— though strictly for entertainment, or perhaps, education, I would hope. Spiritual insight? There must be an Australian bushman somewhere with more real soul.

The lead song, Satan Is Real, is a irreplaceable classic. Bemoaning what Satan has done the Louvin Brothers even say "One-st I had a happy home…and then Satan came into my life."

If you ever doubt the existence of the divine, let the following bouncy hymn, There's a Higher Power, make your case for you. This is a dare. This song has, I suppose, its special brand of spunk. Its lead line, "there's a Higher Power," is roundly repetitive, just in case you don't get it the first time.

Now just in case you think this is actually a new album, be disabused. It is a continuing best- seller, long made readily available by Capital in Nashville starting way back in 1959. Other songs—get ready for the entrancing titles—are "The River of Jordan," "The Kneeling Drunkard's Plea," "Are You Afraid to Die," "He Can Be Found," "Dying from Home, and Lost," "The Drunkard's Doom," Satan's Jeweled Crown," "The Angels Rejoiced Last Night," and "I'm Ready to Go Home."

Don't go home, though. Go buy this never-to-be-matched album first, and then go home and contemplate the levels of consciousness reached by your fellow man as he weans himself on boonies art such as emanates from Ira and Charlie Louvin.

See if you react, as you listen to these boys, as the album notes predict you will: "High country harmony and an aura of truthfulness permeates the air. Their sincerity reaches out an grabs you with such authority that you literally become a part of their song."

That's pure mysticism, dearies, especially if you let it happen.

The album notes describe the fire and brimstone cover on which the Louvin Brothers are posing. "The fiery setting pictured on the cover of this album was conceived and built by the Louvin Brothers themselves, using chiefly rocks, scrap rubber, and lots of imagination."

Perhaps mysticism isn't the pure word after all. Maybe its imagination that best describes what's really required to relax happily in the presence this unique anti-Satanic guitar-plucked production. Lots of imagination.

© 1997 BEI; All Rights Reserved.
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