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On 'Viva Last Blues', Oldham ‘went electric’. Recorded by Steve Albini and including Plush’s Liam Hayes and Sebadoh’s Jason Lowenstein in the cast of accompanying players, the album is as dramatic and accessible as any Oldham has released.
During the accompanying tour and in press shots for ‘Viva’ Oldham often wore a cowboy hat. The record has a distinct Western, frontier-town feel, on ‘Work Hard / Play Hard’ Oldham and band rock-out in suitably blue-collar fashion. The lyrics to ‘The Mountain Low’: ‘If I could fuck a mountain, oh lord I would fuck a mountain’ (Oldham insisted the song was released as a single) were the first to feature the denuded eroticism that would be a hallmark of Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy’s song writing.
On ‘New Partner’, one of the album’s most celebrated tracks, Oldham sounds both warm-hearted and unsentimental – an emotional position that colours many of his lyrics. ‘Viva’ was the first time Oldham had been heard in such clarity and the interplay between the band and his voice produces some startling vocal performances.
Oldham also sounds at his most relaxed and loose on many of the songs, hitting the high notes with abandon as the music ebbs and flows around him, or, as he sings in ‘Viva Ultra’ ‘Are you jealous of the show we put on?’
1. More Brother Rides
2. Viva Ultra
3. The Brute Choir
4. The Mountain Low
5. Tonight's Decision (And Hereafter)
6. Work Hard/Play Hard
7. New Partner
8. Cat's Blues
9. We All, Us Three, Will Ride
10. Old Jerusalem