Cledus T. Judd | Polyrically Uncorrect (Koch)

cd_cletus.jpgI try to keep an open mind to prevent myself from falling into the trap of being the quintessential hipster who hates all country music except for Johnny Cash.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Despite Chuck Klosterman’s well-reasoned arguments on its behalf, I’m gonna go out on a limb and admit that I neither know nor care about modern country music. Barring the occasional tune by Lucinda Williams or Dwight Yoakam or Steve Earle, country has strayed far from its origins as the white-boy equivalent of the blues. I realize that this opinion is no different from that of the graying B-boy who dismisses new hip-hop because he can’t stand crunk, but seriously… From the blue-collar fetishism to the wannabe rock production to the raging, ever-present pro-America boner, what passes for country music these days is… Ah, screw it; I don’t need to explain why I can’t stomach most of what Nashville has crapped out since Red Headed Stranger. I’m sure the majority of readers feel the same way. Still, I try to keep an open mind, both to seek out that which is good and to prevent myself from falling into the trap of being the quintessential hipster who hates all country music except for Johnny Cash. (And, to be honest, I don’t even like Johnny that much. I also hate Wilco. You can see my dilemma.)

Which brings us to my late introduction to one Mr. Cledus T. Judd (née James Barry Poole), 14 years after his debut. Cledus seems to have posited himself as a post-Garth amalgam of Ray Stevens and "Weird Al" Yankovic, the former for whom he recorded a tribute album in 2007, and the latter whose name he mispronounces on the first track of his new release, Polyrically Uncorrect. Being a lifelong devotee of novelty music, I figured this disc could provide me with a side door through which to enter into the sweltering, Bud Light-strewn fairgrounds of modern country.

Though the first few bars of the album—replete with sawtooth fiddle and garish Southern twang—threw down a considerable gauntlet for me to overcome, I nonetheless persevered. However, I quickly realized that I was in alien territory, an awareness that grew more acute as the album wore on. Clearly, this was intended as parody, a send-up of the very style I so despise; in the tradition of Weird Al, Cledus had even taken it upon himself to compose note-for-note pastiches of popular country tunes. But listening to Polyrically Incorrect was a very peculiar breed of hilarity, because the joke was on me: Having absolutely no idea which hits these songs were meant to lampoon, I was reverted back to my childhood self, listening to "Another One Rides the Bus" without the first clue as to why it was supposed to be funny.

Therefore, I am rendered unable to properly review this release. I failed in my quest to gain better insight into modern-day Nashville by way of its court jester, having been turned off by the tailgate party I passed on the way in. I wish Cledus the best of luck in his future endeavors, but it’s just not working out. In lieu of an honest appraisal, I leave you with the only salvageable line I could muster while listening to the album: "Cledus bares his soul in the title track and confesses, ‘I’d rather be funny than thin.’ Alas, neither seems to be an issue." C+ | Michael Munro

RIYL: "Weird Al" Yankovic, Ray Stevens, Roger Miller, Big & Rich

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