I’m not really much of a download-only music buyer; I am what Frank Zappa called a record fetishist. I like the music, sure, but I also like the cover art, the liner notes, the credits, the physicality of the whole thing. It typically has to be something special for me to get a download-only release — and even then, if there’s no physical version, in print or not. (I’m pretty handy at rustling up out-of-print CDs when I’m properly motivated.)
Of course, I shouldn’t have to tell you (though I have before) that Robbie Fulks is pretty special. And any release of his is worth picking up immediately — so, of course I had to have his newest. Even discounting the specialness that is Robbie, 50-Vc. Doberman (pronounced “Fifty Voice Doberman”) IS pretty special on its own.
It’s fifty songs.
In fact, if 50 (for $35!) is too much for you — Robbie’s got a few different playlists to help you whittle it down into more manageable bites. If you’re familiar with Robbie, you know that while he’s mostly an alt-country star, he tends to genre hop — really, Couples In Trouble is more of a straight-up rock album than country — and that’s well on display here. You’ve got some really great country songs (does Robbie write any other kind?), like “They Want Me Here”, “I’ll Trade You Money For Wine”, “Never Been Hit” or the Jerry Reed tribute “The World Is Full Of Pretty Girls (And Pretty Girls Are Full Of Themselves Too)”, straight-up rockers like “No Girls Allowed”, “Angela (You Know You Want To)” and “You Never Were Lonelier” (these last two are two of my all-time favorites on the entire set), funny songs like “Common Law Cabin”. Along with lots of other songs and ones like “Charles Thomas Samuels” which feature a Zappa-esque mashing together of just about every main musical genre (including metal!). And like a musical Save The Green Planet, they all work perfectly.
Robbie’s always been brilliant with lyrics as well as music (seriously: see him live — man can PICK), and some of his best are on this album, including the moving “Look At Her Cry”, about a man at a lynching who has second thoughts while watching. There’s also the Waitsian “Schoolteacher!” and “I Say, Hang Him” — and, well, hell, just about all of ’em.
To be fair, there is some filler. I don’t really like “Word Up”, which is intended as a joke track anyway.
But that’s it.
Yes, one song out of 50 would be out of place on a quote-real-unquote record. I’ve bought albums with much fewer than 50 songs and come away with maybe one cut that wasn’t filler. But given that not all 50 songs are winners, I can understand if you don’t take my recommendation to get this album immediately.