His shit is perfect.

To answer the question weighing heavily on many people's minds, even in 2009: Yes, white men can sing the blues. But it's best if they do so through a jerry-rigged telephone receiver while wearing a motorcycle helmet, as is the custom of Bob Log III.

Sponsored
There’s a New Way to Help Stop the Spread of Covid-19. Your phone.
WA Notify can alert you if you have been near someone who later tests positive for COVID.

Bob Log III is a one-man ruckus-bringer from Tucson, Arizona, who used to be in the similarly ruckus-bringing duo Doo Rag. Doo Rag released a couple of buzz-generating records that came off like a lower-fidelity Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, without the Ivy League pedigree and corny Elvis shtick. Then in 1996, just when Doo Rag had picked up momentum and were opening for Beck, Blues Explosion, R. L. Burnside, and Ween, percussionist Thermos Malling bailed while Doo Rag were on tour with the latter, leaving Log to finish out the dates alone. Thus was born Bob Log III. Necessity is the motherfucker of invention.

While Bob Log III is renowned for his love of imbibing Scotch (preferably with a boob dipped in it first), when he sings it sounds as if he's been guzzling muddy water. Enunciation isn't his forte, and the aforementioned phone-mic gizmo renders him mostly indecipherable. Rest assured, though, Mr. Log isn't crooning tender love songs. Titles like "Clap Your Tits," "Bang Your Thing at the Ball," "Big Ass Hard On," and "Ass Computer" suggest an incorrigible horndog whose helmet-wearing allows him to get away with rampant womanizing.

Onstage, Bob Log III dons skintight jumpsuits and that specially equipped helmet while sitting behind a drum kit, playing slide guitar, and snarling into his receiver. At some point in most gigs, Log invites two women to sit on each leg as he plays. Often, tit clapping ensues. This is probably not how Howlin' Wolf and Lightnin' Hopkins did it. But it seems to work for Bob Log III.

"I grew up listening to AC/DC. I blame them," Log says of his creative origins. "I learned fingerpicking from listening to [Mississippi] Fred McDowell cassettes, so I blame him, too. This is all their fault."

Log is one of those instinctual musicians who don't analyze their actions. He does what feels natural and good to him. And what he does feels so natural and good, he can't imagine ever quitting. Log's songs seem to be pretty spontaneous and ramshackle. Does he labor over them for a long time, or do they sort of just come pouring out of him?

"I make songs!" Log exclaims, as if asked if he eats food to live. "I do get to mess with them, because as a one-man band, there are no rules. Usually when I write a song, it is a guitar part I like to play. Then I like it a lot, and I keep playing it. When I originally wrote 'Goddam Sounds Good' [off the exhilarating new My Shit Is Perfect album], it was one month long. I shortened it to five minutes, but it was painful. It should be a month long."

My Shit Is Perfect (Log's first for Birdman after three on Fat Possum) sounds slightly less raucous and noisy than his previous full-lengths, but Log denies that he's mellowing out. Whatever the case, there's more space and less distortion in his rickety blues numbers, but his shit is still dirty, raw, stripped down: The guitar often sounds like a barbed-wire fence being disassembled in rapid 4/4 time. Nobody's going to mistake this disc for Robert Cray. If this shit's perfect, then we're talking a skewed idea of perfection. But that's just Log's cheeky, overblown ego in full effect.

In all seriousness, though, My Shit does show artistic growth. "Bucktooth Potato" and "Shinkansen Teh!" stomp and pick at breakneck pace, recalling Leo Kottke at his fleetest of finger. "Manipulate Your Figments" gets funky with what sounds like a sample of the Stooges' "Dirt." "Mr. Sis Boom Bah" busts a blazing bluegrass move.

Support The Stranger

Still, these are minor wrinkles on Bob Log III's well-ingrained themes. Not that I have any complaints; I've loved every album by Bob Log III I've heard—and by Doo Rag, for that matter. But one wonders if Log is running out of variations on this approach and feels restricted by it. Does he ever desire to go in a different direction or hire other musicians? Is his trademark style all he can or wants to do?

"I am not opposed to a trombone player," Log reasons. "It would be fun to play some of these songs big. But I love the freedom of anything, anytime in music that is only possible as a one-man band, so I will never, ever quit. As for my style, I like it lots and see no reason to change one small thing. I am a pole-vaulter; you come to see me pole-vault, not bake muffins." recommended

Sponsored
Three veterinarian-recommended tips to help your pets
overcome situational anxiety and other stressors this holiday season.