With their irreverent, though loving and well-informed, approach to roots music, the Holy Modal Rounders alarmed folk purists-and became one of the greatest cult groups ever. Peter Stampfel, Steve Weber and their cohorts play Low Down Dog; Rotten Lettuce; Random Canyon; Impossible Groove; Happy Rolling Cowboy , and more on this well-Rounded anthology!
A fitting epigraph to this all-over-the-madcap-map compilation might be, "I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by folk music." Ringleaders Peter Stampfel and Steve Weber knew their ethnomusicology but preferred deconstructing and discombobulating the old-time tunes their folknik peers handled with cowering reverence. Swiping tracks from the Rounders mid-'70s psychedelic string-band romps, and off-and-on Rounder Michael Hurley's solo records, this set gets to the heart of the group's Frank Zappa-meets-Uncle Dave Macon aesthetic, and rarely grows tedious, because, amazingly, these zany guys can play. Hurley's exquisitely melodic "Sweet Lucy" is included, as are the evil string-band genius of "Random Canyon," the hilarious barrelhouse stomp of "Synergy," and the stoned-as-bats country of "Robbin' Banks." Folk music never sounded so fun. --Roy Kasten