Live At The Alabama Women’s Prison (1970)
Brilliant, For All The Wrong Reasons
Consider this guy the working definition of a hack/genius. Mack Vickery is a fameless rockabilly guy from the Sun Records era, who was so inspired by Johnny Cash’s prison albums he decided to release one of his own. So he goes to the
[[posterous-content:pid___0]]Julia Tutwiler Prison For Women in Alabama and – inconceivably – talks the warden into letting him set up shop and record this (somewhat) amazing album of routine rock ‘n country crock, backdropped by a captive audience of screaming, untamed women. To hear the response, you’d think Bobby Sherman or Justin Bieber was working the stage, and the result is an electrifying and exciting “sounding” album (note the quotes), with little actual goods to show for it. To me, this is genius. A guy, with little more than his chutzpah & wits, trying to make a name for himself. As for the staged, dime novel cover art, if that doesn’t pique your interest… what will? It should be noted that Vickery isn’t a total no-talent. He knows his way around the basics, though his pathetic attempts at humor and celebrity impersonations are dumbfounding – sounding like his repertoire from the 50s, not the 70s. He’s had numerous compositions recorded by the likes of Johnny Cash, George Jones and, primarily, Jerry Lee Lewis, who waxed Mack’s bawdy rocker, “Meat Man.”
Sample lyric: I been down to Macon, Georgia / I ate the furs off a Georgia peach. Plucked me a chicken in Memphis, mama / I still got feathers in my teeth.)
Master archivists, Bear Family, deemed this LP important enough to reissue in 2008 (with bonus tracks not included here), so it’s not a total obscurity. While the All Music Guide, using the term “greaseball,” summed it up nicely by stating, “…as an experience, this thing is extraordinary, capturing a country con man in front of perhaps his ideal audience.” You can read more about him at Wiki. Worth a listen, if only to glimpse the dark side of self promotion.