March-April 2000

 

CHARLIE BURTON
One Man's Trash
Bulldog

 

    Subtitled "The Charlie Burton Story, '77-'99," One Man's Trash tours across three decades of Burton's output, selected by the man himself.  Originally based in Lincoln, Nebraska, he released a string of 45s and full-length albums with an assortment of band names following "Charlie Burton &..." ---Rock Therapy, the Cutouts, and the Hiccups.  The last were responsible for the enduring I Heard That (produced by The Skeleton's Lou Whitney), fully half of which is represented here, including the set's namesake, "One Man's Trash Is Another Man's Treasure."
    A move to Austin, Texas, in the early '90s brought that chapter to a close, and he subsequently set up shop with a new aggregation he dubbed Charlie Burton & the Texas Twelve Steppers.  Whatever the lineup, the ringleader is always Burton.  His wild and loose vocals and persona belie a richly confident set of skills steeped in rockabilly voltage and country storytelling.
    The earliest selection is "Rock & Roll Behavior" from 1977, which wields MC5 force with gleeful abandon.  More than twenty years later, "Lunch Time" finds a greater range of flavors being confidently employed in the studio.  "Ooohing" and "aahing" background vocals showcase Burton's delight in deploying pop smarts in the arrangements and production.  A couple of previously unreleased radio performances underscore the durability of his songs; "That's Not Polite" is just one that sounds like the standard it should become.
    Burton's writing finds the most direct line between two points, but what a line it can be.  He succeeds in imbuing his songs with a sense of humor that never topples into novelty.  The humor is the flashing lights around the entrance, beckoning you in to a building that's rocking across state lines.

-DAVID GREENBERGER
(bulldogrecords.com; Bulldog, 1514
Richcreek Road, Austin, TX  78757)