Sunday, July 13, 2008

Heaven Week: You Gotta Sin To Get Saved Edition

Gary S. Paxton (aka Rusty Dean): Saturday Satan, Sunday Saint [purchase]

Maria McKee: You Gotta Sin To Get Saved [purchase]

"Saturday satans and Sunday saints,
Fooling their neighbors, at least that's what they think,
Reading that Good Book and singing those hymns,
But come Monday morning and it's back to their life of sin."

--Gary S. Paxton (aka Rusty Dean)

"Now I pray the Lord won't scorn me if I make an honest vow,
To someday wear a dress of white,
'Cause scarlet's what I'm wearin' now."

--Maria McKee

Today's post is all about turning Saturday sin into Sunday saves. Or, at least the appearance of a save. After all, if there's no sin, what the hell are the saints gonna complain about? They need each other, in a twisted sort of co-dependent bipolarity. Patterson Hood of the Drive-By Truckers talks about the duality of the Southern thing, but that duality exists in all Americans, regardless of background, geography, and fashion sense. As we stagger from the bar to the pew, transitioning from a week of Hell to a week of Heaven, let us listen to a couple of songs that address this moral duality.

Gary S. Paxton is one of music history's great "lost" figures. In the mid-'60s, he was producing some of the first records to synthesize country and rock. In 1967-68, the house band at his label, Bakersfield International, were The Reasons (aka Nashville West), which included future Byrds, Clarence White and Gene Parsons. Paxton, of course, doesn't resonate with the public like the hallowed names of Gram Parsons and Bob Dylan, but make no mistake, he was either there first or there simultaneous and is an absolutely essential part of the discussion. "Saturday Satan, Sunday Saint" was a 1969 country hit for Ernest Tubb and Paxton tackled the tune shortly thereafter, using the Venture Brotherish pseudonym, Rusty Dean. Great stuff.

Speaking of "lost" figures, Maria McKee certainly qualifies for that status. As a founding member of Lone Justice, Maria kicked out the cowpunk jams for two amazing years (1983-85), which is when Geffen got involved and tried turning her into Stevie Nicks. Oops. By 1993, when You Gotta Sin To Get Saved was released, she was all but forgotten. Too bad. This is one of the defining records of the era, the best record of her career, and one of the best records in one of the best years of American music. Featuring her old Lone Justice rhythm section (Marvin Etzioni on bass and Don Heffington on drums), Benmont Tench of The Heartbreakers on Vox organ, as well as Mark Olson and Gary Louris of The Jayhawks (who tears shit up on guitar here), Maria closes out her album with the blistering title track. Even better, it's a tip of the cowboy hat to Doug Sahm and the Sir Douglas Quintet, both in the Augie-esque Vox part and the fact it's structurally identical to their great "Texas Me." Folks, you can get this album for less than $2 on Amazon. Hastings is actually selling it for TWO F'IN CENTS!!! For the love of God ... pun intended, natch ... do yourself a favor and get you some.

"Honey show some faith,
You gotta sin to get saved."

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