Robbie Fulks & Linda Gail Lewis: Wild! Wild! Wild! (Bloodshot Records)

Reviewed by Harry Kaplan
Wild! Wild! Wild! is such a brilliant breath of clean air. This is triple distilled, 100 % pure country music. Is it 1978 or 2018? Not sure just by listening to this album, but when my smartphone started beeping, I knew I was back in 2018. This is one of the few albums where it is difficult to write and listen. The conundrum is that the music is so appealing, I only want to immerse myself. That is a good predicament to be in. 
I don’t think anyone needs an introduction to these two country music heavyweights. Just in case, I will refresh everyone’s memory. Robbie Fulks has been making Americana music professionally since 1983. He has quite an impressive catalogue under his belt. Linda Gail Lewis is another musical heavyweight who has amassed an impressive musical lexicon in her impressive 50 year career. And she just happens to be Jerry Lee Lewis’ sister. Music runs through her blood like the water flowing down the Colorado River. 
Robbie and Linda were fans of each other before they actually met. The meeting finally took place about ten years ago when Robbie and Linda had the same promoter. Robbie was invited to play on the album that Linda was making at the time and the rest is history. History is definitely the operative word because these duos on Wild! Wild! Wild! are the caliber of the great duos in the past like Tammy and George, Loretta and Conway, Waylon and Jesse, Porter and Dolly, etc.
That’s Why They Call It Temptation (Track 3) is the gold standard when it comes to male/female country duets. It really doesn’t get any better than this right here. This is pure country gold in 1975 and pure country gold in 2018. The melding of Fulks’ and Lewis’ voices  is beautiful and produces no by products. Every note of each voice is perfectly utilized and creates one super voice. The theme of this song is a typical one in the world of real country music, the wandering eye (and other parts).
There are quite a few tracks where Linda Gail Lewis takes on all of the vocal duties. One of the finest in that category on this collection is Hardluck Louisiana (Track 13). This number is a very moving ballad about the hometown. this is hardly your garden variety “my hometown” ra-ra song. Far from it, this is a very thoughtful and well written account about how our hometown memories seem to grow fonder with age. The words and vocals are absolutely stunning.
This pair also kicks it old school on Memphis Never Falls From Style (Track 7). This could easily be a song out of the Billie Holiday collection. A very vintage sound, but the lyrics give evidence as to when it was written and composed: 
Old Birmingham ain’t been worth a damn for a long, long while 
And the hipsters go for Austin, but Memphis never falls from style. 
Don’t shush when they shout, nor scold when they drink 

They got their own way of living, they don’t care what you think 
The local wisdom says the key to success 

Is working just a little and worrying less 

Thank you Memphis! 
For the great insight 
That music is a drag if it’s too fucking white 
It’s B.B. on the guitar, 
Booker T. and Big Star And Dewey on the radio dial

The music references in this song tell me that it was written after the 1930s.  Captain Obvious has nothing on me! Any images that come to mind when I am listening to this song have to be in black and white in order to complete the motif. 
In closing, this album gets a strong buy rating. Sometimes it takes something vintage to create a musical spark. That spark ignited the creative tour de force that is Robbie Fulks and Linda Gail Lewis. Don’t walk, but run to your computer and download this collection ASAP! I am warning you, the download is a gateway drug. Before long, you will be buying vinyl again. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!
Listen to Wild! Wild! Wild!
Buy Wild! Wild! Wild!

 

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