Bob Log III
My Shit is Perfect
The search for authenticity is a futile one. We think we find it in pompadoured wildcats in impeccable suits, singing and swinging about hotrods and barbecue and whatever, but this is just as much an act of crass mimicry as Daft Punk's conceptually lighter rehash of the man-machine anonymity worked out by Kraftwerk and the Residents in the 70's. I'm not saying Daft Punk and retrobilly cats are not within their rights doing what they do or that they are incapable of making engaging art in the process, but granting it authenticity is like seeing your own face reflected in a motorcycle helmet and thinking that makes you a Hell's Angel.
Maybe that's why Bob Log III wears that motorcycle helmet all the time. The one-man band has made an outsider career out of little more than that helmet, a guitar that sounds like it's strung with bailing wire and a kick drum. It's not exactly a formula for success, but as the title of his most recent album suggests, his shit is perfect for what it is.
Bob yowls into a mic built into his helmet and stomps and twangs the gospel of pretty girls shakin' their ass with the conviction of a convert, and thankfully there is very little rationalization or big thinking to get in the way. His songs percolate with the chug of a wheat thresher, often coming to a lurching halt at the chorus, as if the tractor of song has a sticky clutch. The apex of this record is the succinctly titled "Bump Pow! Bump Bump Bump Pow! Bump Pow! Bump Bump Bump Baby! Bump Pow! Bump Bump Bump Pow! Bump Pow! Bump Bump Bump!" which spins and bangs like farm equipment that requires constant supervision. It is stupid and brilliant at once.
"Manipulate your Figments" comes as close as we get to lifting that reflective visor and revealing the thesis behind all this: "My shit is perfect/It's exactly enough" and then it descends into mostly indecipherable declarations of supporting that original claim. The machine of the song breaks down and gets itself started again, yammering and dragging along.
One is tempted to make grand statements like "you don't need anything more than this!" but that isn't really true. A whole album of Bob Log III is a little trying on the nerves unless you have stock in adopting his shtick. The phrase "my shit is perfect" finds its way into the garbled dialogue tumbling out of his primate boogie, and perfection here, as always, is the product of limitation rather than some holistic greatness. So instead of attempting any grand statement about whether this is the real stuff or rock 'n' roll stripped to the bones or anything I am tempted to claim, what you find in a Bob Log III song is an unguarded fact, one with blisters and calluses that in return for the wisdom it imparts asks simply that you and your sister to take off your bikini tops and get on that dirt bike with him and ride.
Alex V. Cook listens to everything and writes about most of it. His latest book, the snappily titled Louisiana Saturday Night: Looking for a Good Time in South Louisiana's Juke Joints, Honky-Tonks, and Dance Halls is an odyssey from the backwoods bars and small-town dives to the swampside dance halls and converted clapboard barns of a Louisiana Saturday Night. Don't leave Heathrow without it. His first book Darkness Racket and Twang is available from SideCartel. The full effect can be had at alex v cook.com