Label: Sub Pop
Catalog #: 70407
The debut record from North Carolina’s the Blue Rags is a party of an album, a rollicking good time from a bunch of Southern boys with influences that range from ragtime to punk. From the opening notes of “Be My Salty Dog,” these fellas make it clear that they know their musical history as well as they know how to write a timeless hook. Swelling with throaty vocals, the plunk of a stand-up bass, bluegrass guitars, and saloon-style piano playing, Rag-n-Roll feels uncommonly genuine, like serious musicians having the drunken time of their lives. Juggling styles from swing music to the upbeat lament of “Bourgeois Blues,” there is nary a relaxing moment over the course of the band’s 13 unrelenting hyper-stomps. Even the cover of “I Got Rhythm” that closes out the record sounds like a legitimate relic of an era past, and a few pleasing liberties are taken that allow the band members to show off their abilities on their respective instruments. While this debut was a bit overlooked as far as mainstream media went, its infectious energy still managed to capture the hearts of those lucky enough to hear it. The Blue Rags never really managed to equal this power on future recordings, but as their live show attested, the music was in them and the record is no fluke.