Funny Farm

Comedy has been a staple of the country music scene for decades. It has not, by and large, been a comedy of subtleties. The broader the better has been the call, for comedians ranging from Rod Brasfield to Junior Samples to Cledus T. Judd to Jeff Foxworthy. On his third album, Tim Wilson shows a real knack for creating bits with wide appeal.

Wilson's routines consistently mine the same subject matter: Southerners, NASCAR races, relatives, marijuana, alcohol, dumbasses, and a recurring character, Uncle B.S. (RealAudio excerpt), an old blowhard who claims to remember not only being at a number of historical events, but screwing them up. In an industry that devours such content voraciously, Wilson is staying pretty funny.

Going back to Brother Dave Gardner in the 1950s, singing comedians have always had an additional weapon at their disposal, and on Hillbilly Homeboy, Wilson continues to push his musical dimensions. Unlike say, Cledus T. Judd, who specializes in parodies of country hits, Wilson co-writes original topical material, which is sometimes right on the mark. Check the hilarious "The Ballad of John Rocker" (RealAudio excerpt) and "Michael McDonald Had a Farm" (RealAudio excerpt), which includes spot-on impersonations of pop singer McDonald and some of the artists on his farm, including James Brown.

Part of the reason the music works as well as it does is that Wilson recruited top musicians to back him up. In this case, he recorded in Muscle Shoals, Ala., with some of the region's legendary players, including bassist David Hood. Wilson also called on The Band's Levon Helm, who contributed drums, harmonica and mandolin.