B Y C O R Y F R Y E
FORGIVE ME, O FATHER, BIG DADDY IN THE SKY, for consorting with fluid-suckers. I am old now, my winter marked by memories of an earlier age: 2000, a year that once passed for the distant future. It hit, however, as '97 Jr. Folks still rented videos, I.e., tape wrapped in a black plastic shell. They bought physical CDs like crazy. And Politically Incorrect was both a cable show and laid-back condition, before right-wingers hijacked (as they steal everything, like white on rice, Internet memes, and good rock ’n’ roll, and pretend it was always theirs) it as a perpetual license to asshole. Life was fun then, dirty, hilarious. Oh, how we laughed as a nation carefree.
Nashville Pussy fell into this fray as comic pornography in a fried-chicken bucket, born of the same excesses that yielded Ted Nugent's Double Live Gonzo! (back when Ted was a seemingly apolitical crossbow-hunting yahoo), pre-self-serious Southern rock, chainsaw punk, and an AC/DC that may have belonged in jail. Their full-length debut, Let Them Eat Pussy (1998), had to be sold in protective wrapping, like a Hustler beneath the record-shop counter -- not just for its multiple instances of the "p" word or its track titles ("All Fucked Up," "Go Motherfucker Go"), but because it depicted -- on its cover, even -- its two female members, bassist Corey Parks and hellfire guitarist Ruyter Suys, dominating a pair of servile men.
The album was a top spin at Jeff Simpson's Phonomania shop in downtown Albany, recommended by all the clerks despite their varying palates. You heard plenty in that store on any given day, from the FuckEmos and Zeke to Spookey Ruben and Stereolab, but everyone played Nashville Pussy. You could pass the Phono window on a Saturday afternoon and get pummeled by rhythm guitarist Blaine Cartwright barking like a Doberman choking on Darvon, "Put your goddamn hands on your speakers / And listen to the shit I'm about to lay down" ("Fried Chicken and Coffee"). And goddamn, you did. Imagine the Supersuckers on more potent cocktails of hard-grain alcohol and cheaper street narcotics.
Freed on bail in May 2000, High As Hell was more of the same on a bigger budget; Eat pushed enough units for the band to ascend from Tom Zutaut's Enclave label to TVT, with Kurt Bloch (Fastbacks, the Young Fresh Fellows) retained as producer. With the larger template he twists the ignition hard -- literally, on opener "Struttin' Cock" -- and Hell moves at breakneck velocities, tearing up straight-road highways, filling more space with sleaze. They leave barely enough room between tracks to breathe; "Struttin' Cock" thrusts into "Shoot First and Run Like Hell" coldcocks the scuff of "She's Got the Drugs" dropkicks "Wrong Side of a Gun" (they do not specify which end that is). Every cut revels in partying down, raising hell, guzzling alcohol, and filling beds with gasfire frisson, an eternal second-wind 2 a.m. with flailing fists and dicks. "Go to Hell" may qualify as the disc's closest facsimile of downtempo reflection, but even that has teeth: sinewy riffage for weeks under Carwright's seething tale of an evil woman gettin' hers after "fuckin' two of my friends." His voice roils in the spaces between barfights and boudoirs with long pit stops at bathroom medicine cabinets to swallow whatever's handy. He embraces every definition of "fuck." It's his religion.
Cartwright may propel the rhythms, but Ruyter Suys was always the band's devastating pilot, a hook-mongering beast that soloed like a motherfucker, imprinted by Steve Jones, Chuck Berry, and Angus Young, but with an easy freedom learned from Duane Allman and Allen Collins. Even the covers are Pussy-fied; their fiery "Rock 'n' Roll Outlaw" improves on the Rose Tattoo original, slicker, greasier, another filling-station bathroom bang.
The set could end only in cathartic explosion -- and it does, in "Drive," part freedom-cry, part exhortation at gunpoint, accelerating on Suys' frenetic fretboarding until it crashes into something hard enough to crush it into a symphony of glass and metal, then blow up -- twice. Only Nashville Pussy could rock that hard.
Cartwright and Suys remain NP's principal draw, its two constants these last 20 years. High As Hell would be the original Pussy's last ride. I was lucky enough to catch this lineup on a triple Portland bill in the late '90s with Fu Manchu and Motörhead. My friend Kevin Hampton and I thrilled to Corey Parks' (sister to ex-NBA star Cherokee Parks) limber, leather-legged flamethrowing bursts and Cartwright bade farewell over his band's cacophony with a hearty "So long, motherfuckers!" while a sweat-caked Ruyter twisted inhuman squalls from her machine as punctuation -- you know, that rock 'n' roll swell before flattening the earth.
Their next album, Say Something Nasty (2002), would be more of the same, but that's a glory for another day. Even old men and fuck-mongering reprobates deserve a rest.
Eat More Pussy EP (1998)
Let Them Eat Pussy (1998)
High As Hell (2000)
Say Something Nasty (2002)
Get Some! (2005)
From Hell to Texas (2009)
Up the Dosage (2014)
Pleased to Eat You (2018)