Pirates of the Mississippi was formed in 1987, when Nashville session musicians Bill McCorvey (lead vocals), Rich Alves (lead guitar), Dean Townson (bass guitar), Jimmy Lowe (drums), and Pat Severs (steel guitar) started performing together. Originally, they identified themselves as the We Don’t Want a Freaking Record Deal Band, but upon witnessing a group of fans wearing clogs, the group changed its name to The Cloggers.
The Cloggers began playing various clubs around Nashville. Eventually, they attracted the attention of an artists and repertoire (A&R) at Universal Records, a label owned by Jimmy Bowen. Executives at the label disliked the band’s name, and suggested that they change it. The band then chose the name Pirates of the Mississippi because they thought that Lowe resembled a pirate. The band’s debut album was finished by 1988, but its release was delayed until 1990 due to Universal being bought out by Capitol Records. The album contains four singles: “Honky Tonk Blues” (a cover of the Hank Williams song), “Rollin’ Home”, “Feed Jake”, and “Speak of the Devil”. “Feed Jake” was the highest charting of these singles, reaching #15 on the Billboard country charts. All of the other singles except “Rollin’ Home” reached Top 40 on the same chart.
The Pirates made their name with their third single, “Feed Jake,” which had a video that became country music’s version of Old Yeller. The rest of the debut is a cross between Alabama country and Southern rock. (The album starts with a speeded-up version of “Honky Tonk Blues,” if that’s a hint at what’s to come.) There are a few twists, though, namely a Guy Clark song (“I Take My Comfort in You”) and a surf-country instrumental.
- “Honky Tonk Blues” (Hank Williams) – 3:00
- “I Take My Comfort in You” (Guy Clark, Wayland Holyfield) – 3:34
- “Rollin’ Home” (Rich Alves, Bill McCorvey, Gary Harrison) – 3:11
- “Speak of the Devil“ (Alves, McCorvey, Danny Mayo) – 3:04
- “Feed Jake” (Mayo) – 4:00
- “Talkin’ ’bout Love” (Alves, McCorvey, Larry Gottlieb) – 4:17
- “Jolly Roger/Pirates of the Mississippi” (Alves, McCorvey) – 5:15
- “Down and Out in Birmingham” (Alves, McCorvey) – 3:57
- “Anything Goes” (Mayo, McCorvey, Diana Rae) – 4:09
- “Redneck Rock & Roll” (Alves, Mayo, McCorvey) – 3:24
- Manufactured By – Capitol Records
- Rich Alves – guitar, Hammond organ, background vocals
- Jimmy Lowe – drums, percussion
- Bill McCorvey – guitar, lead vocals
- Pat Severs – steel guitar, Dobro
- Dean Townson – bass guitar, background vocals
Strings on “Feed Jake” performed by John Kelton.
Released: June 18, 1990
Recorded at: Studio 19. Assisted by David Matthews, Lisa Thomalla, Jerome Rothacker.
Label – Capitol Nashville Records