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Mojo Nixon

The Mojo Manifesto: The Original Album Collection (Manifesto)

Ten albums and one DVD — that’s 11 discs of Mojo Dixon to sit down and marinate in. Well, at least we have the time right now. We need it; what we have here is all ten albums that the semi-retired psychobilly nutball recorded in his career (plus an EP tagged onto one of the discs), seven music videos and a meaty booklet packed with anecdotes, factoids, photos, art and flyers. It’s tough to imagine finding the time for it all under normal circumstances.

Nixon hooked up with longtime collaborator Skid Roper and released the Mojo Nixon & Skid Roper album in 1985, finding an audience on college radio almost immediately thanks in part to his gift for ludicrously brilliant song titles (“Jesus at McDonalds,” “Moaning’ With Your Mama,” etc). But those chuckles wouldn’t have gone very far if the music wasn’t tons of fun, and it is. Rudimentary and simplistic? Sure, but joyously so.

It’s little wonder that Nixon always had fans in the punk scene — his rough and ready musical approach combined with an impish will to offend and a gift for a hook shines throughout this exhaustive set (sadly, it’s missing Prairie Home Invasion, the ’94 collaboration with Dead Kennedys man Jello Biafra).

“In my career, I overperformed,” Nixon says in the press release for this box. “At the time, I was all in a huff, but now looking back at the fact that I made 10 albums and did all these things is fucking amazing! I gotta say — I got a lot out of a little…

Mojo Nixon wanted to be Richard Pryor. He’s like Richard Pryor’s stupid cousin if he was white and played in a rockabilly band. I’d say things that simultaneously shocked people and spoke the truth. I don’t have that much talent, but what I do have is an enormous amount of enthusiasm.”

He’s being humble, of course. Nixon does have talent — a real gift for songwriting. But self-effacing humor suits him. While he’s laughing at himself on a song like “When Did I Become My Dad,” it doesn’t sting when he kicks out on songs like “I Gotta Crazy Wife.”

In the 24 years between the first and last of the ten albums here, Nixon barely changed at all — by the end of the last song, he’s still the same hootin’ and hollerin’, zany rocker that he was at the start of the first. And while he barely plays live anymore, that’s why he’s still cherished.

(Manifesto)