Cornell Hurd & The Mondo Hotpants Orchestra "(Return Of) The Village Of The Durned" (Behemoth, 1976/2010)
Hurd's early works, from EPs and singles spread out over the 1970s. Although folks today think of Cornell Hurd as being an Austin country kook, he actually got his start back here in the San Francisco Bay Area, as a bar-band rocker. This is a reissue of an early EP that got Hurd some national attention, when the famed freeform/novelty DJ called Dr. Demento played Hurd's song, "Bicentennial Boogie," one of many novelty numbers gathered on this retrospective CD. As far as I can tell, this archival album is only available on Hurd's website...
The Cornell Hurd Band "Doing That Unholy Roll" (Behemoth, 1980)
This is the kind of record that you hang onto if you've got a soft spot for hometown heros, or if you dig one-hit wonders. The "hit" on this album is "Saturday Nite In San Jose," an irresistible bit of chiming, late-'70s power-pop that also shows Hurd's charmingly self-deprecating sense of humor, and pays homage to one of his many hometowns. The rest of this record doesn't really blow me away or anything, although it does show hints of things to come. (Anyone who does a cover of Hank Thompson's "Six Pack To Go" is alright by me...) But "Saturday Nite" is still such a great, great song... I even still play it on the radio from time to time!
The Cornell Hurd Band "Honky Tonk Mayhem" (Behemoth, 1994)
The Cornell Hurd Band "Cool And Unusual Punishment" (Behemoth, 1996)
With guest vocals by Johnny Bush...
The Cornell Hurd Band "Texas Fruit Shack" (Behemoth, 1998)
A San Francisco Bay Area bar band that hoofed it down to Austin in the early '80s, Cornell Hurd and his crew play real country music, a good-natured mix of western swing and easygoing R&B with a flair for the kind of elaborate novelty songs that Harlan Howard excelled at in the '50s and '60s. Hurd knows this music well enough to gather the best talent around -- Asleep At The Wheel's old steel player Lucky Oceans is just one of the the many talented pickers on here, along with Bill Kirchen and Texas old-timer Johnny Bush. But Hurd doesn't let all that talent get in the way of having a good time: he lets his rough side drag, singing off the beat, writing his lyrics to slightly silly extremes, letting things fall apart and not worrying too much about it. Personally, I don't mind much, either -- if the songs are good, I can hang with all kinds of sloppy, goofy playing, and Hurd has great songs popping out his eyeballs. You have to be willing to hang on his wavelength, but Cornell is definitely a distinctive and very funny performer, a welcome hangover from the era of '70s hippie-billy country.
The Cornell Hurd Band "At Large" (Behemoth, 1999)
The Cornell Hurd Band "Live At The Broken Spoke" (Behemoth, 1999)
The Cornell Hurd Band "A Stagecoach Named Desire" (Behemoth, 2000)
On this album, Hurd plays things a little more straight (although this is admittedly a relative term when dealing with these fellas...) The musicianship is much more straightforward and easier to groove out on -- sweet fiddles and pedal steel throughout, backed by a solid rhythm section. More great songs, too, ranging from cover tunes like "Ain't It Funny" to surf tunes and affectionate R&B send-ups ("The Gypsy") and gloriously goofy Hurd originals such as "What Would Ernest Tubb Have Done?" and "Tell Your Shrink I Said Thanks For Nothing..." This is one of Cornell Hurd's best albums, or at least one of his most "normal." Well worth tracking down and checking out. Johnny Bush and Justin Trevino both make guest appearances.
The Cornell Hurd Band & Marti Brom "Feudin' And Fightin' " (Behemoth, 2000)
The Cornell Hurd Band "Song Of South Austin" (Behemoth, 2002)
Hurd delves deeper into his old love of bar-band R&B, hearkening back to his "Saturday Night In San Jose" days... He's still got an undeniable hillbilly streak, and an enduring love of goofy, bad puns. Johnny Bush, Marti Brom and Justin Trevino all pitch in once again, with Bush contributing novelty songs such as "Jealously Insane," which match Hurd's own originals, pun for pun. As ever, an endearingly unprofessional, made-by-real-human-beings kinda country record, studded with clever songs and brilliant bellyflops, among them a cover of Alvin Crow's old classic "Nyquil Blues." I think my favorite song on here may be "Don't Wipe You Face On Your Shirt," which also appears on the Bloodshot Records children's music collection, Bottle Let Me Down. Fun stuff.
The Cornell Hurd Band "Live At Jovita's: Don't Quit Your Day Job" (Behemoth, 2003)
A fine live set, featuring Hurd and his crew, with Justin Trevino on bass, songbirds Marti Brom and SF Bay Area expat Dee Lannon guesting on vocals. Features plenty of CHB crowd pleasers such as "Tell Your Shrink I Said 'Thanks For Nothing'," What Would Ernest Tubb Have Done" and "I Cry, Then I Drink, Then I Cry," as well as oldies such as "Hoy Hoy Hoy" and "Nyquil Blues." Portrait of a band having fun.
The Cornell Hurd Band "My Missing Years: 1984-1989" (Behemoth, 2003)
The Cornell Hurd Band "Texas By Night" (Behemoth, 2003)
The Cornell Hurd Band "Cen-Tex Serenade" (Behemoth, 2004)
The Cornell Hurd Band "Fanmail From The Lost Planet" (Behemoth, 2005)
The Cornell Hurd Band "Beyond The Purple Hills" (Behemoth, 2007)
The Cornell Hurd Band "American Shadows: The Songs Of Moon Mullican" (Behemoth, 2008)
(Produced by Cornell Hurd, Bert Winston, Brad Moore & Alan Crider)
A sweet, funky, surprisingly heartfelt homage to 1940s honkytonk/hillbilly boogie piano player Moon Mullican, a figure long revered in the rockabilly-retro scene as an early pioneer of the 1950s rock sound. Bandleader Cornell Hurd has long been an amiable, down-to-earth figure on the Texas indie scene; here he plays host to a number of likeminded pals, including twangbar king Bill Kirchen, singers Tommy Alverson and Justin Trevino, as well as pianist Floyd Domino, a relatively refined player who still does justice to Mullican's rough-hewn sound. It's a nice set, with a mellow DIY twangtune feel, and plenty of great songs, including a few that may be shockingly raw. The album's opener, "Fools Like Me," is one of those old-time tunes that can shock modern listeners with its real-life rawness; although not sexually explicit, it sure doesn't beat around the bush about what its like to hook up with the wrong person, night after nght, while drawing your misery in the bars. There is a sad coda to this album: it is the last album recorded with Hurd's longtime lead guitarist Paul Skelton, who passed away right when the record came out. He sure got some sweet licks in on this record, though! (Rest in peace & thanks for the great music...)
Cornell Hurd "A Bad Year For Love" (Behemoth, 2010)
Hick Music Index