CJ McKnight - Stinker Lets Loose (soundtrack) (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

CJ McKnight

Stinker Lets Loose (soundtrack) (2019)


The legend goes that in the ‘70s, there was a trucker movie called Stinker Lets Loose which followed the misadventures of a trucker, his chimpanzee sidekick, and a "Mississippi Hippie." Then, if you buy that, apparently there was an unreleased soundtrack recorded by a never-was country rocker called CJ McKnight. Burger Records has released this ostensibly long lost relic and thank goodness they did.

A pastiche of honky tonk and getaway music, the soundtrack to Stinker finds McKnight relaying some of Stinker’s escapades. There are songs about running from the cops. There are multiple references to cheapo beer Schlitz. McKnight, in true yee haw accent, wonderfully pronounces ”loose” as “lewwse!”

Mick Jagger once said something along the lines that he loved country music because it was at once sincere and self-aware. No doubt, McKnight is sincere in his reverence for ‘70s country rock. The slide guitar would make Kenny Rodger’s player sweep. The easy grooving guitars make the whole album lighthearted and a fun romp. But, that being said, McKnight winks at us as much as he salutes his genre. There’s no way to take a phrase like “hold on to yer mudflaps!” seriously. The bayou plunk of “The Legend of Stinker,” which proclaims “that man liked to ride, ride, ride to his beer” before adding that stinker has “nothing to fear,” seems to salute a man for the most middle-of-the-road aspects, lovingly, and funnily so.

Between the vocal tracks is chase music that could obviously fit into Smokey and the Bandit or even The Muppet Movie. “Ears On’s” lap guitar is polished to the point where, like many modern country tracks, seems to reference certainly melancholy simply by being added to the song, sans any lyrics. “Makin’ Time” opens with a 14-wheeler's engine roar and as the tune bops along in a haze of Roger Miller, Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, and Ronnie Milsap, you can practically see the 5-0 in the side mirror.

Frankly, the soundtrack to Stinker is catchy and light enough in that it might fool you into thinking, “wow, maybe I actually like honky tonk!” Further investigation into the genre can easily dispel that notion as reinforce it, and that’s a testament to McKnight’s work here- he hits the genre high points, maybe chuckles a little bit, and then hits the road before you know what hit you.