Reviews for No. 6 Dance...
ALL MUSIC GUIDE
They don't make them like this too often anymore. No. 6 Dance is American rock & roll from the heartland with Five Horse Johnson hopping a freight train and riding the rails from rootsy blues to acid rock to '70s guitar-band heaviness. The album takes Led Zeppelin's brand of psychedelic stoner tunes and puts them in a stars-and-stripes T-shirt. "Mississippi King" is a catchy jam that would have suited Skynyrd just fine. "Spillin' Fire" takes the old school harmonica blues and rocks out with them, and "It Ain't Easy" makes for a sweet, Southern, sun-drenched cover. "Gods of Demolition," the title that best befits Five Horse Johnson, showcases Brad Coffin's demon guitar and Eric Oblander's desert rocking, Kyuss-esque vocals. But the best song on the disc has got to be "Shine Around," a groovy, circular, Black Crowes-style jam with a singalong chorus -- a tune worthy of the smokiest middle-American teen bedrooms circa 1973.
Charles SpanoJuly 2001www.allmusic.com
"The album that is hogging up Clutch's tour bus stereo."
FUNNY, I was off doing a Clutch feature and got introduced to this via a few cold brews and some dubious cigarettes. It was one of those moments where you suddenly go, "whaddya mean it's their fourth album? " What fool has been keeping this quiet?!".
Comparisons are a little awkward without making this sound less cool than it really is. Try perennial boogie merchants Dr. Feelgood playing ZZ Top tunes, or maybe Aerosmith and Black Crowes without the girly pouting and you're close to the mark. Currently kicking ass in a venue with sawdust carpets nowhere near you, just don't say no-one told you."
"O-HI-O. Say it with me now. O-HI-O. What does it mean? Booty Swingin' Hip Shakin' Rock, that's what. Say it again now: Motherfucking O motherfucking HI motherfucking O = rock. Five Horse Johnson are a bad-ass rock and roll. From where? You know where. You're not stupid right? You know I'm talking about gawd - damn - big - riff - southern - swang - groovin' - and - movin' rock and roll with a fuck you attitude. Rock truth as honest and ugly as sweat soaked hair and zits under your guitar strap.
Put this record on and feel cleansed. Purged of phoniness. This is the Top 40 antidote. This is what Texas would sound like if it was a heavy rock band. Shuffling and grooving along, FHJ channel the spirit of vintage ZZ Top, Black Oak Arkansas and the heavy parts of Lynyrd Skynyrd and embellish it with razor sharp modern sound. Throw in some rudimentary harmony choruses, hammond organ, harmonica, steel guitar, melotron and piano and all of sudden your looking at one kick-ass record.
To me the highlight is the cover of "It Ain't Easy". The voice of FHJ oozes cigarette smoke and liquor intoxication yet booms with the conviction of the righteous. Set against Bowie's ziggy-era opus of glam decadence, some kind of alchemy takes place and creates musical gold. A strong case could also be made for the 14+ minute jam of "Odella" or the easy-greasy blues slide of "Hollerin'". The big riff uptempo blasters like "Mississippi King", "Silver" and "Lollipop" are as infectious as ebola, and they leave you just as knocked out. O-HI-O!"
Drew WebsterApril 2001
CUSTOM HEAVY (now Hellride Music)
"Five Horse Johnson are among the best bands out there. Period. The new one, "The No. Dance" is the follow-up to 1999's equally rocking "Fat Black Pussy Cat". Everytime I listen to these guys they seem to get better and better. This is music to cuss by. Could be the soundtrack to beatin' the wife to, should one be prone to such things. Makes me wanna put on a dirty t-shirt and smoke cigs and shoot pool and drink bottled Budwiser. OK, maybe go bowling too. And fuck with rich people. "The No.6 Dance" differs from it's predecessor in that there is less blues and and more of a rock vibe...even a southern rock kinda thing happening in places. Songs like "Mississippi King", the album starter, are pure rock n' blues slide-guitar bliss. "Shine Around" is a huge Boogie-Bomb wrapped in red-hot blues and Hammond organ courtesy of side-man Jimmy Bones. The drummer and the bass player get some shuffle in "Spillin' Fire" while vocalist Eric Oblander works wonders on the Hohner. For those of you afraid that Five Horse Johnson have abandoned the traditional blues, one only has to listen to "Hollerin' "and "Odella" to see their feet are firmly planted in the roots of rock. Brad Coffin's guitar solos in "Silver","Shine Around" and "Buzzard Luck": could start a fire in a rainstorm. His slide guitar skills rival that of fellow slide-pro Taildragger' Jon McGee. Vocalist Eric Oblander not only has the perfect voice for this kinda tuneage, he's a magician with the Hohner...the harp solos are among the best I've ever heard. No John Popper speed-solos here...each of Mr. Oblander's solo's are works of a true bluesman, and he knows the beauty and visceral effect of holding a note when it's appropriate. Friggin' amazing. This is another spectacular release by a hugely talented band. While the rest of America gets spoon fed mindless pap in the form of prefabricated pop music, a fire rages underneath. Be part of it won't you? 9/10 on my scale of Rockingness."
Chris BarnesApril 2001www.hellridemusic.com
"With their fourth full-length "The No. 6 Dance", these Toledo boys are now officially rock 'n' roll royalty. As of today, this minute, right now, they are the finest rock 'n' roll band in America. ZZ Top are probably my favorite band of all time and I still play their first five albums on a weekly basis, and Five Horse Johnson is the only band I've found who can make a week without spinning those LPs seem OK.
So if you're unfamiliar, I've already given you a pretty good reference point as far as what these guys sound like. Five Horse Johnson don't sound like ZZ Top, but I don't think it'd be unfair to assume that Rio Grande Mud has done a fair tour of duty in these guys' homes. More than a specific style of playing, what Five Horse Johnson take from ZZ Top is the sleazy fluidity which I suppose is what makes me keep playing those records over and over. Lead vocalist/harmonica player Eric Oblander sings like he's got a belly full of rotgut and he plays harmonica like he's much older and much less white than he is, guitarist Brad Coffin's playing suggests a neck and frets smeared with barbeque sauce, and the rhythm section is only slightly less tight than a duck's ass. A crack fucking band, in other words.
And yeah, the singer plays harmonica, so you might be thinking "blues rock" and, as is the usual reaction to such a music, start getting dressed for bed, but hold up. Yeah, there's a lotta blues flavor to what these guys lay down, but there's no 12-bar autopilot to be had in these grooves (and here's where the ZZ Top thing really comes to a head), just a lot of pummeling rock songs which preserve the sleaze of electric Chicago blues. Check out the songs "Silver" or "Lollipop" to see what I mean. This won't bore you to tears like your typical blues rock- it'll just make you wanna pour a few beers down your head and start shakin' your ass.
And then there's the album's final track, "Odella." I said earlier that these guys avoid the straight 12-bar thing, so I guess I sorta lied. This is something else, though. "Odella" is something much darker, more sinister, and altogether fucking brilliant. It's not blues rock, it's blues. Over a simple, ominous blues figure which is repeated without variance for the song's fourteen and a half minutes, Oblander gives a tour de force performance, moaning incomprehensibly and blowing an exorcism through his harmonica while guest axeman Billy Reedy tears it up for the duration. It should be boring as hell, and it certainly would be in less capable hands, but in these beer-sodden mitts it becomes something much more like a "When the Levee Breaks" for the new century. Yeah, I know that sounds ridiculous, but when confronted with the power of the song itself, I can do nothing but sit in slack-jawed amazement. I've played "Odella" at least once a day for the couple of weeks I've had the album and all I can say at this point is that it's far, far too short.
Ditto the album. Buy this, buy all of their albums (and, while you're at it, check out the other finery Small Stone has to offer), go see them live and buy them beer, mow their lawns, do their laundry; whatever you need to do to feel you've repaid your debt to the rock they have so generously brought forth."
Brain VarneyApril 2001