The Glasspack and Trophy Wives Split: The Night They Tore Old Louisville Down

Posted in Reviews on March 10th, 2011 by JJ Koczan

Nobody does dirt rock quite like The Glasspack. For over a decade, the Louisville, Kentucky, outfit — under the leadership of appropriately-monikered guitarist/vocalist “Dirty” Dave Johnson – have been inflicting eardrums with their pounding blues rock, and on their latest release, they pair up with fellow sluggers Trophy Wives for a split 7” on Noise Pollution Records that turns out to be a whole lot more than just that. Well, not in terms of the vinyl or anything, but if you buy the record, you get the download code for a boatload of bonus cuts that brings the release to over an hour in length, with 15 tracks instead of two. Basically, you can have two completely different listening experiences for the split, whether you just want to check in on new studio material from both bands, or explore deeper into live songs from The Glasspack and older recordings from Trophy Wives. Both certainly have their appeal, and though the bands sound different, their common locale and bullshit-free sensibility binds them, and the 7” winds up making an odd kind of sense.

Perhaps that best suits The Glasspack, who present no fewer than three different lineups on their nine contributions, leading off with the instrumental 7” track “If You Don’t Have Anything Nice to Say…” and showing their penchant both for giving Johnson space to rip solos and drummer Brett Holsclaw’s rhythmic drive. Taken on its own, the song stands up to anything The Glasspack has released on their several killer albums, Bridgeburner or American Exhaust coming to mind, and for fans of no-frills motor rock, I don’t see how “If You Don’t Have Anything Nice to Say…” could miss. They follow it in the download material with a cover of Bobby Rush’s “Mary Jane,” then move onto their live set from the 2008 Roadburn festival in The Netherlands, which easily could have been released on its own (as so many others have done). It’s hard to decide whether the weedy groove of “Mary Jane” tops the later extended, drawling live jams contained in “Jim Beam” or the shuffle boogie of “Louisiana Strawberry,” but I like not knowing for sure, and looking at it for the bonus material it is, I’m less inclined to expect an album flow as the Roadburn set gives way in turn to the more crudely recorded “Lot Lizard” from a 2009 Noise Pollution release party. Johnson’s vocals, throaty, Delta blues-styled, are suited to the rough treatment their given on the tape, and “Lot Lizard” proves to be just the last of several formidable grooves The Glasspack bring to the table on their 43 minutes of the split.

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