Doo Rag

  • Doo Rag
  • Chuncked and Muddled (Bloat) 1994 
  • What We Do (Dependability) 1996 

This Arizona duo plays electrified — and sometimes electrifying — Delta blues along the lines of modern-primitive roots duos Flat Duo Jets and the Chickasaw Mud Puppies. Featuring the virtuoso slide work of Bob Log (who sounds like Mississippi Fred McDowell after a few too many cups of coffee), the band updates its raw, vintage sound with Log’s frenetic strumming and Thermos Malling’s manic thrashing of his busker-style gut bucket and cardboard box percussion. Doo Rag also knows a thing or two about marketing: the debut album’s enigmatic packaging, with no band photos or credits, only amplifies the false impression of poor white blues prodigies who’ve been locked up in an abandoned juke joint just a little too long.

With Log’s authentic-sounding twangy hollering apparently funneled through a cheap bullhorn, Chuncked and Muddled runs down frantic takes on material associated with McDowell (“Train I Ride”), Sleepy John Estes (“Drop Down Baby”) and Muddy Waters (“Can’t Be Satisfied”), as well as a host of other reworked and retitled traditionals. The duo’s lack of dynamic variation can get a bit tedious-especially on the CD, which has four extra tracks recorded “Live on Radio” (no further explanation given). But for the most part, Doo Rag excels at stripping some powerful music down to its primal essence, then blasting off on furious riff tangents that rock like a lifeboat in a hurricane. Pass the white lightning, please.

[Michael Azerrad]