Tonio K. and 16 Tons of Monkeys
Gotta love a record that starts off with a cut entitled “I Handle Snakes.” Now, if you’re a lifelong Tonio K fan, it will come as no surprise. But if your particular trailer park ain’t wired for the K, then stop all your nonsense and pick this up. Seriously, Tonio K is an American natural wonder, and scant few listeners know his magic, which he’s been churning out since Life in the Foodchain way back in 1978. Of course he did compose “Love Is” that everybody covered in the ’80s, but that don’t count. Or matter. What does matter is the world that Tonio comments on – once considered fantastical, now commonplace – is a weird and belligerent arena, but he stands astride it, spitting venom all the while, chopping down the phony and profane with such songs as “Snakes,” “What a Way to Live” and others. Backed by a hotshot band including former Double Trouble organist Reese Wynans, Tonio sounds surly and tough on this 1992 show, which is sadly about the closest any of us will ever get to seeing the man in person. Hell, he’s almost reason enough to move to Texas. Almost.