These Floridans throw original tunes in with covers of wildly varying notoriety, shake it all up and pour out fiery stuff. That frontman Charlie Pickett’s own tunes often compare favorably to those he chooses to cover makes their scarcity on the live LP disappointing, and using three tunes by the Pirates (during and after Johnny Kidd) and three written or adopted by the Flamin Groovies on one album is a bit much, even if Pickett’s slide work and the nasty ensemble nearly makes numbers like “Slow Death” sound newly minted. (Other borrowings come from Manfred Mann and Lou Reed.)
For their long-awaited second vinyl outing, the Eggs took to the studio and cut five songs, including the great Miami localisms of “Overtown” and “Marlboro Town,” a dopey “Louie Louie” adaptation that was a local hit two decades ago for its author, Charlie’s cousin Mark Markham. (Markham also penned “If This Is Love, Can I Get My Money Back?” which is included on the live LP and was also recorded and issued as a 1982 Pickett single.) Even without the special charge they get onstage, the Eggs reel off true-blue high-energy rockers, further establishing guitarist John Salton as a first-rate student of Thunders, Fogerty and Sky Saxon (not to mention a dead-great slide player). It’s hard to believe this band isn’t as big a global legend as it deserves to be.
Eggless, but joined by such sympathetic grunge talents as ex-Panther Burns guitarist Jim Duckworth and Maureen Tucker, Charlie is still burning with unquenchable rock’n’roll fire on Route 33. The material is almost entirely Pickett’s; Minneapolis legend Chris Osgood produced it to resemble an old Stones album from a real ethnic American perspective. A little bit blues, a little bit country, but strictly bullshit-free, the album is a straightforward electric charge from a real heartlands original.
The Wilderness finds Pickett howling and rocking at top form with a new backing band. The Magic City (Miami, that is) Three includes ex-Egg Salton, whose blistering blues-based guitar excitement provides fiery encouragement for Pickett’s plain and emotional singing which, at times, recalls Neil Young’s mournful country wail. Covers of a twelve-bar blues and a gospel song, both penned by Son House, and an electrifying new rendition of “If This Is Love” settle in nicely alongside such new originals as “Religion or Pleasure” and the cowboy saga, “Destry Rides Again.”
The CD of The Wilderness contains Cowboy Junkie Au-Go-Go. That record was also re-released in an expanded edition that appends the contents of Pickett’s first two singles and a track from a compilation cassette.