The best reason to run your own label — if, like Jack White at Third Man Records, you have the bread and resources to go with your breadth of passion — is that you can reissue any record you want, even an album as obscure and twisted in its firewater-party abuse of country-rock ideals and studio conventions as Texas Funeral (Third Man), the 1985 album by the quartet Jon Wayne. For a time, there were whispers that the Lone Star-centric songs, Earnest Beauvine’s crusty-fuzz not-quite-tuned guitars, Jimbo’s falling-off-the-porch drumming and singer Jon Wayne’s homicidal-redneck drawl, filtered through what sounds like broken-CB-radio crackle, were the homesick-dementia work of the Butthole Surfers. Other reports claim Wayne, if that’s his real name, was from Texas via Fresno, California. The credits on Third Man’s vinyl reissue (on half-pink, half-black vinyl) include one for “Personal Management: Denny Bruce.” Bruce was an early drummer in the Mothers of Invention, produced records for the guitarists John Fahey and Leo Kottke and managed Fahey’s Takoma label. There’s a trail of crumbs somewhere: Director Robert Rodriguez managed to get permission to use the title track in his 1996 shoot-’em-up, From Dusk Till Dawn.
In any case, it takes a special loose-limbed craft to lampoon small-town bigotry, smaller-minded sheriffs and pistol-packin’ alcoholic fury — “Mr. Egyptian,” “Texas Jailcell,” “Is This Justice?” — with such vicious glee and still keep enough real noir to make you glad you won’t run into these guys in an El Paso alley. Some of the best moments come when Wayne takes his whiskey-soaked choler out on the studio engineer — “Fuck you and your nose” — and wonders how he wound up in such dire straits. “Should have kept my job at Pathmark, sellin’ garden hose,” Wayne growls at the end of “Texas Wine.” He may be back there now — or not. But his band left us this singular plate of country-punk roadkill, still steamin’ after all these years.