Big Ass Truck
Who Let You in Here?
First Appeared in The Music Box, February 1999, Volume 6, #2
Written by John Metzger
On Who Let You in Here?, Memphis-based Big Ass Truck creatively uses an array of samples, turntable scratches and other hip-hop techniques to its advantage, and the result is an album that is full of hypnotic, infectious grooves. The group was formed in 1992, and has toured relentlessly, allowing it to gradually build its following, which now includes a number of high-profile musicians. Early last year, Big Ass Truck connected with Ben Harper & the Innocent Criminals for a series of sold-out concerts. In addition, after performing at a private party for members of Widespread Panic, Big Ass Truck joined them for a series of shows that included a concert at Chicago's Aragon Ballroom over Thanksgiving weekend.
Who Let You in Here? is Big Ass Truck's third full-length disc. In 1997, Upstart Records, a division of Rounder Records, folded, leaving the group without a record company. Big Ass Truck took this opportunity to revive Peabody Records, the famous Memphis label, in order to release its latest disc. The self-produced album took more than a year to make and ambitiously contains 17 tracks and nearly 70 minutes of music. Throughout the collection, the ensemble utilizes quite a hodgepodge of sounds, blending elements of funk, blues, R&B, Stax soul, hip-hop, punk, and '70s rock. At times, it sounds a bit like Phish (most notably on the AC/DC Bag-groove of Taylor, Mississippi), though it fuses this with the punk-funk insanity of the Red Hot Chili Peppers (Queenie Come Clean) and the pop sensibility of Dada (30 K G's) and Ben Folds Five (Hands of a Working Man). Yet, all of it is done on the collective's own terms, creating a sound that's unique, different, and sometimes just plain, old weird.
For example, Yums is a tender instrumental selection with a guitar part that sounds like an outtake from the coda to Layla. Of course, there's also a lot of odd, cat-like noises that creep in throughout the piece adding a surreal peculiarity. Likewise Portuguese Man O'War (61542) is a funky infectious groove containing quite a joke of its own. The numbers contained in the title come from dialing them into a touch-tone phone, and these can be heard throughout the first half of the song.
Who Let You in Here? is definitely an all-out aural assault that can be quite overbearing. At first, it appeared as if there was too much going on at once. However, persistence is the key to grasping what Big Ass Truck is trying to accomplish in its complex, creative, and addictive endeavors. It's also one of the more unique jam/funk/pop-oriented bands around, and its sound provides a little something for just about everyone.
Who Let You in Here? is available from Barnes & Noble.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 1999 The Music Box