The magnificent six ride in with their best record to date: a swaggering, stomping slice of Stonesy country rock
Sometime in 1968, Keith Richards met Gram Parsons. Kindred spirits in multiple ways, the two struck up a friendship that wound up contributing a whole load of twang to the Stones’ sound, carrying way more authenticity than a bunch of West Londoners had any right to. Since then, many bands have followed the swaggering, stomping, spacey, bluesy country road they paved, but it’s hard to think of any that have done it better than The Nude Party.
The North Carolina outfit earned their name from a predilection for playing in the buff, but this is music beyond gimmicks. It’s the kind that seemed like something discovered in a remote cabin even back when The Band were doing similar. It chugs and swings, stamps its boot on the floor, kicks up decades-old dust, sidles up to the bar, drinks your whiskey and smacks you about the head before running out the door.
In the wrong hands, this can all play out like awkward, embarrassing cosplay. The Nude Party, though, have the safest hands this side of Jonty Rhodes. The grit that covers the opening riff to ‘Word Gets Around’ suggests that they paid attention to the same teachers as their influences, rather than just copying their homework. They’ve a deep feel for this countrified rock ‘n’ roll that can’t be faked, creating a joyous racket that works its way into you from the feet up.
So much of that joy comes from the ‘in the room’ feel of The Nude Party Rides On. Listen to how ‘Word Gets Around’ starts to accelerate towards its endpoint. Or how the pounding keys on ‘Hard Times (All Around)’ seem to signal to the rest of the band that everything’s about to kick off. Tempos shift, volume rises and falls and everything ebbs and flows in a way that seems less deliberate and more like a band standing in a circle and following each other’s lead.
Everything peaks with the glorious one-two punch of ‘Cherry Red Boots’ and ‘Ride On’, two immediately gratifying songs that highlight everything that’s great about The Nude Party. The former rides in on a cavernous ‘Be My Baby’ drumbeat and sparkling guitar line before the band chuck the kitchen sink at it. It’s a terrific song that insists from the very first kick that you’re going to love it, no matter what. ‘Ride On’ is almost as much fun as its video, chugging along like one of those money-loaded trains that Butch and Sundance spent their time chasing down.
By the time the keening Morricone-esque harmonica of ‘Red Rocket Ride’ plays The Nude Party off into the sunset, it’s become crystal clear why The Nude Party Rides On is so enthralling. Every single song is played with an enviable conviction. The guys know exactly how good this album is and they’ve woven that confidence into every inch of the performance and production. Whichever town The Nude Party ride into next, those folks are in for the time of their lives.