Best Of The Batch: Mike Cullison
Blue Collar Tired
Artist: Mike Cullison
Title: Blue Collar Tired
Label: Cullison Music
Mike Cullison got his experience playing music in the honky-tonk clubs of Oklahoma. Johnny Neel, the wily old veteran from the south, shows up for yet another album joining Cullison on this session.
Cullison has a strong country-honky-tonk vocal style on Blue Collar Tired. You’ve got to love the title of the CD. There is tired, then there is blue collar tired. I guess because I am a white-collar worker, I’d have to call it white collar tired, but that just doesn’t sound right to me - not enough grit and sweat to it. The music has a tenacious, raw determination to get right to the point. Somehow, when you are playing country or blues with a honky-tonk underpinning, it all comes across loud and clear.
Culllison’s connection with Neel came in 1995 when he moved to Nashville to have better access to writers. He met Neel, which led to a European tour with him and the Italian power trio W.I.N.D., and now we have this collaboration.
The first track is “Wish I Didn't Like Whiskey.” This song pokes fun at a drinking habit, and is typically funny because of the words and pace. This is where blues and country intersect and have many similarities. With their sob stories and good lovin’ gone bad tales, it all ends up in a song. Instead of crying, the person writing the song ends up laughing, or the listener does - in either case it applies.
Cullison does a great job with this style of music and has the perfect voice for it. The musicianship is very capable; you will hear some nice slide and lap steel guitar along with rollicking honky-tonk piano. I can just picture Cullison in some small, smoke filled bar in the hills of Oklahoma playing these songs and everyone whooping it up line dancing. It’s certainly not too hard to envision that. This is a good thing if you are into this kind of music, which typically I am not. However, I did appreciate the musicianship and Cullison’s great vocals. The stories are very typical, but it’s what everyone wants to hear so it works.
There was just enough blues in the mix to hold my interest in this album. After the first track the story is pretty much “More of the Same,” just the faces and words change. I have to hand it to Cullison, though. He does a nice job mixing up the musical content, and always offers quality, which, in the end, takes some of the focus off of the “end of the relationship” storylines.
01. Wish I Didn't Like Whiskey
02. Blue Collar Tired
03. Waitin' in Your Welfare Line
04. Pour Hank On the Pain
05. Going Up the Country
06. Break My Fall
07. Hurt That Bad Again
08. More of the Same
09. Jealous Sea
10. Where's Joe Friday
11. Miss Maggie Rose
12. This Old Heart
13. The Grapes of Wrath Are Ripe Again
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