Manifesto Records has a new box set that’s positively Bo-Day-Shus!!! It’s The Mojo Manifesto: The Original Album Collection from cult psychobilly rocker Mojo Nixon. The 10CD/1DVD collection has all of Nixon’s solo albums (and early collaborations with Skid Roper) as originally released between 1985 and 2009 along with a bonus DVD of seven music videos.
Neill Kirby McMillan Jr. was immersed in music from a young age; his father ran a soul-oriented radio station in Virginia (“I was music crazy,” Nixon once noted. “I remember listening to Arthur Conley’s ‘Sweet Soul Music’ like 700 times in a row.”) and when he was a teenager, he picked up a guitar. He received degrees in political science and history from the University of Miami, but rather than becoming an academic, he became a community organizer and played in punk rock outfits. On a cross-country trek, he invented the character of Mojo Nixon, blending “voodoo and bad politics” and inspired by Howlin’ Wolf as crossed with Foghorn Leghorn.
Nixon and Skid Roper attracted attention with the musical hijinks on their first self-titled album from 1985. The LP premiered “Jesus at McDonald’s,” which set the stage for increasingly more irreverent songs with novelty-esque titles like the Martha Quinn-inspired “Stuffin’ Martha’s Muffin” (Frenzy, 1986); “Elvis Is Everywhere” (Bo-Day-Shus!!!, 1987); “Debbie Gibson Is Pregnant with My Two-Headed Love Child” (Root Hog or Die, 1989); and the No. 20 Alternative Songs chart entry “Don Henley Must Die” (Otis, 1990). Naturally, Nixon’s songs attracted controversy; MTV refused to air the video for “Debbie Gibson” even while Mojo was appearing regularly on the network. (Don Henley, for his part, reportedly joined a surprised Nixon onstage for the song skewering him.)
But Nixon’s music wasn’t played strictly for laughs; he attracted esteemed collaborators including Steve Wynn of The Dream Syndicate and producer Jim Dickinson (The Replacements, Big Star) who helmed Root Hog or Die and Otis. On the latter, Nixon became a full-fledged solo artist with the departure of Skid Roper. Members of Concrete Blonde, The Beat Farmers, and The Del-Lords all appeared on Mojo’s LPs. With 1992’s raucous, raunchy, and definitely not suitable-for-Christmas-dinner LP Horny Holidays, Nixon began being backed by The Toadliquors who continued to support him on Whereabouts Unknown (1995, with “Tie My Pecker to My Leg”), Gadzooks!!! The Homemade Bootleg (1997, featuring “Bring Me the Head of David Geffen”), and The Real Sock Ray Blue (1999, with “Disney is the Enemy”). 2009’s Whiskey Rebellion, released after Nixon’s 2004 semi-retirement, rounded up odds and ends from earlier in his career such as “What’s Up Judge Judy’s Ass?” A handful of Mojo-ized covers pepper the albums in The Mojo Manifesto including Iron Butterfly’s “In a Gadda Da Vida,” “This Land Is Your Land,” the Bruce Springsteen B-side “The Big Payback,” The Smiths’ ‘Girlfriend in a Coma,” and such holiday tunes as “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” and James Brown’s “Santa Claus Go Straight to the Ghetto.”
While Mojo called it a day in 2004, he’s since “unretired” for various occasions, and he’s also become a beloved presence on SiriusXM satellite radio channels like Outlaw Country, in which he – appropriately enough – hosts as The Loon in the Afternoon: “It’s a redneck rampage with the irrepressible roots rock wild man…Saddle up for an uncensored thrill ride that celebrates the unheard, demented psychotic underbelly of the American dream served with a heaping order of BBQ.” That more or less describes the cult classics within The Mojo Manifesto. All discs in the sturdy box are housed in digipaks, and all of the CDs have been newly remastered with superb sound by Bill Inglot and Dave Schultz at d2 Mastering. Craig Rosen has penned the album-by-album liner notes in the thick, copiously illustrated 40-page booklet.
Ready to get your mojo working? The Mojo Manifesto – also the title of a much-anticipated documentary about Nixon that was scheduled to premiere this year at the now-cancelled SXSW festival – is the ultimate celebration of the iconoclastic rocker. It contains most everything released by Mojo other than some side projects including those with Jello Biafra and The Pleasure Barons. The comprehensive set is available this Friday (tomorrow!) from Manifesto Records! It’s available for pre-order at the links below.
Box set includes:
- Mojo Nixon and Skid Roper (1985)
- Frenzy (also including Get Out of My Way) (1986)
- Bo-Day-Shus!!! (1987)
- Root Hog or Die (1989)
- Otis (1990)
- Horny Holidays (1992)
- Whereabouts Unknown (1995)
- Gadzooks!!! (1997)
- The Real Sock Ray Blue (1999)
- Whiskey Rebellion (2009)
- Video Collection DVD (2020)