Nurse With Wound - Huffin’ Rag Blues
As a longtime fan of Nurse With Wound, I was both eager and afraid to hear the latest effort by Steven Stapleton and crew, Huffin’ Rag Blues. Up until it’s release it was touted as a very lounge-inspired release with vocals that harkened back to Peggy Lee. Not really knowing what to expect I put the disc in the player and was pleasantly surprised by the outcome.
The short opening track, “Willy the Weeper,” begins with a whimsical tune that fades into a terrifying growl, letting you know that this is still clearly a NWW release. Between the droning, free-form jazz of “Thrill of Romance..?”, the lounge organ of “Groove Grease (Hot Catz)”, and the piano of “Wash the Dust From My Heart” the setting of this album is created. A dingy, smoky subterranean club, pulled out of David Lynch film.
Where the album strays from the lounge concept is on the tracks “The Funktion of the Hairy Egg” and “Juice Head Crazy Lady”. The nearly 14 minute long “Hairy Egg” is mostly a traditional Nurse With Wound track for the majority of it’s length. Vocals kick in around the 9 minute mark and the underlying noises morph into the tribal drumming and animal sounds of a rainforest cacophony.
One of the more interesting choices on Huffin’ Rag Blues is definitely “Black Teeth”. The vocals by Matt Waldron make this track sound like a Tom Waits inspired Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds outtake… not something you would expect to be said about a Nurse With Wound song, especially one that apes Sheena Easton lyrics.
The highlight of the album is the track “Cruisin’ for a Bruisin’”, which has an equally great remix found on The Bacteria Magnet mini LP. Utilizing car horns, car radios and other auto related samples, it seems easily to be the track on Huffin’ Rag Blues that the most fun was had making.
Huffin’ Rag Blues could be difficult for a lot of Nurse With Wound fans to get into as it is somewhat of a departure and is, on the surface, one of Stapleton’s more accessible outings. After 30 years in the making music business, it is clear to me that Steven Stapleton is still being as experimental and innovative as he was when he first began Nurse With Wound.