Seriously, I've just finished listening to it for the gazillionth time and nothing else comes close. It's almost tragic how good it is when I consider how much time I've spent listening to inferior music in the search for something to better it. Even more so when I think that I might easily have missed it, that I might still be locked in the closed musical world I was inhabiting before hearing this, I might have gone forever without kicking down those walls.
Not that there was anything behind those walls as good as THB anyway. In those 5 1/2 years I've scoured the strange lands of folk, I've swum the depths of electronica, I've torn apart the realm of hip hop and put it together again in a box marked "country", I've looked high and low and I've found nothing. This is it. The benchmark.
Of course, I appreciate that this is a subjective thing - it came along at the perfect time for me and I'm not expecting anyone else to hail it as the best record of all time ever, or whatever.
But it is.
What other artists walk the tightrope from the Bad Seeds to the Sugarhill Gang, blindfold, and keep their balance? Who else has released stuff on Anticon whilst being compared to Tom Waits by every hack in the game, and then gone on to collaborate with a symphony orchestra just for the hell of it? Who else even has a voice like that without smoking 90 a day or being a septagenarian former bear-wrestler? No-one, that's who. If Lanegan rapped Woody Guthrie lyrics over Fingathing remixes of Ry Cooder backing tracks it wouldn't come halfway to reaching Talkin' Honky. And Buck's lyrics would still be better anyway.
When he's on form, as he frequently is on this album, no lyricist can touch him. No beatmaker, no turntablist, no producer. The guy's peerless.
And Talkin' Honky Blues is the best record of all time ever.
Go on, tell me why I'm wrong.