The Morells: Shake and Push (1982) LP

The Morells
Shake and Push
Borrowed Records 3302  
good shit *****

Classic set from Springfield, Missouri, very much in the NRBQ style (which of course goes back to the beginning of time, or at least back to the early 1950s).  These folks get a bit more silly than NRBQ, opening the set with three originals, starting with “Gettin’ in Shape” (“Here comes Betty / She’s so sweaty / I wish we were goin’ steady”).  To make sure this ain’t some stale neo-rockabilly museum music, they go into the Village People at the end of the song, enough to send some roots-rock purists to their graves where they belong.  After that, the band launches into a song about food (the subject of some of the best songs ever recorded), this one about Red’s, the cafe that graces the sleeve.  (“The only thing that’s French on the menu is fried.”)  After that flavorful cliché, they go into some obscure covers, a song about the beautiful thing about “Ugly & Slouchy” women, and another about “Growin’ a Beard,” concluding with the instrumental “Bumble Boogie.” 

The fun continues on side two, starting with Roy Montrell’s 1956 “That Mellow Saxophone,” (this version referring to “watching Columbo” as well as Davie Crockett) and continuing with the obscure covers till the end.  Lots of folks did this sort of thing but few did it as good.  Most groups usually picked hit songs that should have been left alone, tried too hard to sound retro and pretended to be from the South.  In contrast, these folks weren’t pretending.  They poke fun at their hometown, the “recording capital of Greene County,” but if you’ve been to this area, you know it’s the South.  And in the South, you had standards.  If you’re going to make a record, you better have a tight band and some good songs.  This set fits that bill.

— winch

(author of Kalamazoo: Growing Up Sideways in the 1970s)

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