The Sultans


Friday, November 7, 2014
The Sultans – “Please Don’t Leave Me on the Highway” from Shipwrecked (2004 Swami)


Fifty! That feels good, especially given that I missed a couple days this week due to being incredibly busy with real life and its responsibilities. When I started this thing I was unemployed and living in Southern California. Now I’m teaching again and feeling the strains of early morning commutes and long days of work. And now you’re feeling the strain of me and my excuses.

But still, fifty. That’s probably the amount of times I’ve listened to this song in the last couple of days in preparation for blogging about it. It seems fitting that the Sultans should be post #50 in a way. Shufflers 0008 and 0009 were about Rocket from the Crypt and Hot Snakes, respectively. That saves me a lot of time having to explain the enormous RFTC umbrella and my feelings about John Reis’ vocal stylings.

I really find the Sultans refreshing. It doesn’t take long to hear why. This is a simple enough song, musically and lyrically, but right away there is an ascendant guitar line in triplets set against the 4/4 rock and roll that supports it, which is a music nerd way to say that there is a lot of complex interplay between the different instruments going on here. That maybe seems odd, given this from Wikipedia:

The band took pride in their “stripped down” rock and roll approach, using a simple guitar/bass/drumstructure and recording quickly using pre-used equipment and borrowed instruments in order to maintain a loose, spontaneous feel.

In the end, though, I think it’s more of a both/and than an either/or. People often say shit like that because they want to sound deep but actually have no idea what they’re talking about, but it’s true: The Sultans are a rock band, kind of punk, kind of rockabilly, and so yeah, stripped down, except for their exquisite tunefulness. Because honestly, there are a million punkish rockabilly bands that I don’t have any interest in, but what the Sultans have going for them is that they are compelling. They know what to do when, how to do it, and how it should sound, and they pull it all off.

Basically, this song is a really good pulp novel set to some sweet trucker speed in a souped up hot rod on old route 66 in the middle of the most perfect summer night.