Loudon Wainwright III “Attempted Mustache”


This is good singer-songwriter fare that’s well worth seeking out (and a pretty easy find too). Loudon Wainwright III had been kicking around for some time, releasing a few critically acclaimed folk albums throughout the early 70s. Attempted Mustache (his 4th LP) is one of Loudon’s finest efforts, a loose, low key affair with brutally honest lyrics and even a few shambolic, drunken performances that are highly entertaining. So while the playing and atmosphere is relaxed, this LP features some of Loudon’s best loved songs, a few that rank as true classics. Columbia released this very solid, musical album in 1973 (Loudon’s prime years), as he was just coming off the fluke hit “Dead Skunk.”

The album opens with “Swimming Song,” a very personal composition with clever lyrics. For this track Loudon’s ex-wife taught him how to pick the banjo. Towards the end Doug Kershaw adds some wonderful colors with his superb fiddle work. All in all, a brilliant performance that captures the man at the top of his game. Other great numbers are “A.M. World” (drunken country-rock), “Come A Long Way” (fragile Americana), “Nocturnal Stumblebutt” (sexually charged singer-songwriter nonsense) and “Lullaby” (melancholy folk-rock). These tracks rank as some of the finest unsung singer-songwriter material from the era but the humorous, looser cuts such as the live, talking-blues of “I Am The Way”, the modern/indie sounding “Dilated To Meet You” and rocker “Clockwork Chartreuseare” are almost as good.

Some reviewers have criticized Loudon’s work for being too emotional or overly sensitive but I think Attempted Mustache sounds great, especially all these years later. More of a hard luck hero than a James Taylor, Loudon delivers the goods on Attempted Mustache.

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“The Swimming Song”

:) Vinyl | 1973 | Columbia | search ebay ]
;) MP3 Album | download at amzn ]
8-) Spotify link | listen ]

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  • Neil Cake

    People have said Loudon’s stuff is too emotional and sensitive?

    I find that surprising, since he seems to have quite a blunt sense of humour, which seems to interject pretty much any time he says anything emotional. He takes a very masculine standpoint most of the time.

    Also, if we’re talking emotional and sensitive, he’s got nothing on Neil Young – now THERE is a sensitive songwriter! After all, songs are supposed to be about emotions – it is an art.

    Yeh, I like Loudon. This was actually the 1st of his albums that I got. I’m surprised you didn’t mention “The Man Who Couldn’t Cry” actually – that’s the standout cut for me.

  • Yeah great record! I think it might be my favourite by Loudon, and like Neil says one of the best things about it is the humour.

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