John Schooley: The Man Who Rode the Mule Around the World (Voodoo Rhythm)

Niangua, Missouri, escapee Schooley continues to evolve. As the gee-tar and co-writin’ fulcrum driving The Revelators (of Columbia, Missouri–find their Crypt releases), he helped coin a kind of style: rockabilly oi–it seemed to me at the time–or farmboy boogie, as he might call it now. As the whip across the shoulders of Austin’s Hard Feelings, he found a place of no disgrace in the rockaroll world during a time when that wasn’t easy. As the hardest-working, hardest-thinking one-man-band (there are a few) in the Yew-(be)Nighted-States, he has preached and played across this turf and yon til his knuckles and tonsils have bled. This is a man who doesn’t settle, who is as Show-Me-State-stubborn as the mule Charlie Poole rode ’round the world, and his new release is his best. Augmenting his barnstorming six-string and bigfoot beat with banjo, fiddle, piano, handclaps, and harmonica (courtesy of the great Walter Daniels), barreling through old weird American traditionals (a plangent but lively “Cluck Old Hen”!), golden-age nuggets from Marvin Rainwater and G. l. Crockett, and some snazzy originals, he achieves something akin to what Greil Marcus once wrote about Jerry Lee Lewis’ Sun auditions: “…[O]ne long roadhouse stomp.” And on “Doubleneck Stomp,” he catches up to his long-time ambition of mating Roy Buchanan and Link Wray. His vocals still need some oomph, but if you turn the record up as you are instructed to on the album cover, it just doesn’t matter.