The cover says it all, sports fans. Music from what very well could have been the period which produced awe-inspiring photos such as this one used on Men of Extinction's album jacket and others locked into memory whether we like it or not--- the guy with the jet pack, the rocket car, Minnie Pearl, raccoons riding tricycles, freeways with no cars on 'em, Betty Page. You know. Science fiction of the backwoods variety. Hollywood loved it. They built stars around this stuff. Ever see Faron Young act? Neither have I, but I seen him in a movie oncet. Played a sheriff. Give him a badge and everythin'. But I'm strayin' here. Point is, the cover says it all.
Ol' Jim Colegrove down Fort Worth way--- well, he was settin' on the porch one day and thought, hell, I could use some company and he set about callin' friends--- musician friends, they was--- lots of 'em down in Fort Worth--- throw a beer bottle, not an empty one, an' some musician nearby would make sure it never hits the ground--- and they come over and set on the porch too. In the midst of passin' the jug around, someone said, hey, let's do somethin'. Ever'one else looked at him funny for a minute and then continued passin' the jug around. Feller thought for a bit and said, hey, why don't we record an album! Ever'one looked at him funny again, then continued passin' the jug around. Then the feller says, yeah, yer right. We'd need instr'ments. I got 'em, says Jim. An' a studio, the feller says. Got that too, says Jim. An' talent, says the feller, which stopped Jim dead in his tracks. Jim thought for a bit, more 'n likely waitin' for that jug to come around again. Finally he said, I know where I can get some. And Men of Extinction was born.
Look at the album cover again. That's what's on the inside, too. A whole string of tracks recorded in a variety of styles with tongue(s) in cheek. You can tell by song titles. “Evolution's Not Fast Enough For Me,” “Jane's Name Is Jane” (bet you can't guess where that one is going), “Lap Band Dance,” “Trapped In Amber.” Songs to curdle your beer! Lyrical legerdemain worthy of Homer if not Homer & Jethro! Instruments played, alone or in tandem!
Take, for instance, the aforementioned “Jane's Name Is Jane.” It starts that way, true, but it morphs as it progresses and in the end, Jane is no longer Jane. Not only that, James is no longer James! My God, how do these things happen?! No, it's not a slam on gender change. It is a statement that, over all, it does not matter! Speaking of which, they have a song titled “I Use To Think That It Mattered,” too. “Bubba Louise” I shouldn't have to explain (partially because I am still trying to figure it out), and “Golda Mae Hill”--- we all had our Golda Mae's, didn't we?
Some damn fine playing on the album, too! I only know a few--- Colegrove's wife Susan (vocals), Roscoe West (vocals, guitar), Linda Waring (drums, vocals), Ginny Mac (accordion), Jim Milan (bass)--- but I know all of 'em now! Flashes of Pee Wee King and very early Bob Wills (Doughboys era) and even Bobby Bare and Tom T. Hall who have been known to pull off a good one now and then their own selves. Of course, my favorite songs involve the pedal steel and Jim got David McMillan and Tommy Spurlock to pedal away and forgive me if I get a mite misty here, it's such a lovely instrument.
None of the eighteen musicians used in the recording of this album were injured, at least not physically. Sixteen of them have, however, checked themselves into rehab, Colegrove and wife Susan choosing instead to exorcise their demons as they always do--- at Christmas before the altar of the famous Ohio State Buckeyes, also known as their Christmas tree.
Yep. Mr. Colegrove has a winner here. Or should I say Men of Distinction? Colegrove didn't do it alone. He would be the first one to tell you that.
By the way, word came down that they played it for Elvis and his folks the other night. When “Jane's Name Is Jane” came on, this was their reaction.