Ridley Bent Blam

[MapleMusic; 2005]

Rating: 3.5/5

Styles: hick-hop (says so in the press release)
Others: Uncle Kracker, Buck 65, Tom Waits, Jim White

Back in '99 on the Comedy Network, there ran a short lived six episode sketch comedy show called Slightly Bent TV. One skit above all the other low budget but underrated shorts has stuck with me over my years of brain cell abuse. It was a science segment hosted by a Doctor Futuro who, in the installment I remember, followed a chain of suspect logic that linked the previous generation's most-despised-by-parents music to a future of wild, wide sweeping success. Using this, he developed a hypothesis that predicted the future of music, and that future was the fusion of country and hip-hop; in that instance illustrated by a "Straight Out Of Wisconsin" freestyle by Ice Rube, from the gang Hillbillies With Attitudes, limping around in a keenly satirical video that showcased the absurd realities of both genres. Sure, the show may not have been able to predict what the public wanted in terms of television, but the 2000 release of Uncle Kracker's solo debut Double Wide and Buck 65's highly intelligent Talkin' Honky Blues three years later have proven this specific in jest proposal shockingly correct. But with this Vancouver-recorded debut from Canadian nomad Ridley Bent, the genre has taken a huge step towards legitimacy and credibility. You can bet Garth Brooks never wrote a chorus like "I'm Johnny Cash when I'm drinking, I'm like The Clash when I'm thinking/ ...I'm Humphrey Bogart when I'm smoking, Bob Marley when I'm toking," even as his ill-fated alter ego Chris Gaines. Sometimes Bent leans more to the laidback country side (like the nostalgically Mom and Pop toned "Rattlesnake Moonshine") and sometimes more to the aggressive hip-hop way (like with the Ani DiFranco meets the rock incarnation of Cypress Hill stiff lipped "In The Trunk Of A Black Lexus"), but whatever he's making, all the words and most of the music is by the hand of the hard toking, light-hearted Bent. But he looks for no justification by either clique faction nor is he working for a niche market angle. He's just a BC bud loving poet, and this is what's in his head. Like it or not, there's a lot to respect about how far this guy's balls are hanging out there.

1. Pastures Of Heaven
2. David Harley's Son
3. Fruit Pickers (In Dubious Battle)
4. Suicidewinder
5. The Devil And Coltrane Henry
6. Rattlesnake Moonshine
7. In The Trunk Of A Black Lexus
8. Badmuthafunkster
9. Bad Day
10. Gunslingin' Dog

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