Barbecue BOB & The Spare Ribs – The Sacred and the Propane 2002

Barbecue BOB & The Spare Ribs – The Sacred and the Propane 2002


Based on the irreverent title (that’s not a misprint – it’s ‘Propane,’ not ‘profane’), one could reasonably assume there’s little New Jersey’s Barbecue Bob and the boys hold sacred. With the exception, thankfully, of their music. Judging from the heat and the grease in these grooves, I’d say they take that very seriously indeed!
The Spareribs have been together in one form or another for over twenty years now. On “The Sacred And The Propane,” leader Robert Pomeroy (vocals, guitar, and harmonica) leads the current lineup through a mixed program that includes but is by no means limited to blues. John Lee Hooker’s “Burnin’ Hell” opens the disc, there’s a cover of “Too Late Brother,” and the songwriting team of Mr. Pomery and drummer Scott Byrne contribute a handful of tunes that might best be described as ‘blues for the end of the millennium – the end, mind, not the beginning, ’cause they’re invariably dark and brooding (witness the acerbic “The Preacher,” or guitarist Ira Spinrad’s lone contribution, “Love Has Turned To Hate”). But elsewhere there’s lots of rockabilly (“Hey Little Girl,” “Don’t Start Cryin’ Now”), and a generous helping of heartland rock (“Fat Of The Land,” and the gorgeous yet thoroughly unsentimental “Remember”).

In short, it’s bar band stuff – a varied set list to please the crowds. But the ‘Ribs are far above average in both execution – everything’s done with admirable efficiency, the kind that comes only with countless gigs (fueled, one would guess, by too much beer, too many cigarettes – and in vision. They’re the kind of band who can do basic, unpretentious stuff and make it all theirs. The rhythm section, Dominick Zarrillo and Mr. Byrne, provide a rock-solid foundation that surely keeps dance floors full; Mr. Pomeroy’s harp work is simple but invariably effective, and Ira Spinrad employs tone and textures thicker than Mississippi mud. Guests include Neil Thomas and Bruce Martin on piano and Hammond respectively; both are put to good use.

I confess that I approached this one with some misgivings – the packaging is a little on the bizarre side – but am happy to admit that I was pleasantly surprised; it’s raw and real, and if it lacks polish that’s more than made up for by passion and integrity tempered with a biting wit and a rebellious disregard for expectation. These guys are cool. Their music is cool, too.
By John Taylor.
Robert Pomeroy- Vocals, Guitar, Harmonica
Ira Spinrad- Guitar
Dominick Zarillo- Bass
Scott Byrne- Drums
01. Burnin’ Hell (Besman, Hooker) 4:19
02. Love Has Turned to Hate (Spinrad) 4:59
03. Hey Little Girl 2:07
04. Fat of the Land 4:15
05. Don’t Start Crying Now (Moore, West) 2:38
06. Kate 4:30
07. Evil Twist 4:35
08. The Preacher 4:15
09. It’s Too Late Brother (Duncan) 5:21
10. We Gotta Rock (Traditional) 3:22
11. The Chosen One 3:45
12. Remember 5:35
13. Time to Go 6:00
14. French St. Mambo 3:56

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