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Country music or what young people know as Alternative Country or Alt country


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Not just good news but great news for sad song loving cheerful music lovers

Justin Townes Earle is back in October

As good as it gets for country music

In Melbourne he is headline a country music day out that includes the Delines a new band that is absolutely great

And in November the best record of the year is touring

Hurray For The Riff Raff in Mullumbimby playing for all the hipsters hippies and elderly gents like myself

And I am off to see my favourite Aussie band Halfway in Brisbane with the Delines

Yahoo

Not to mention JTE on the wed night at the Tivoli

And then the seriously big event the complete Bob Dylan Basement Tapes

138 songs or so

6 CDs

How can I wait

Please don't wake me up

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I was actually famous in my last year of high school after I recited the entire song of Alice's Rstaurant ( including differing voices and accents when required ) on the way home from a weekend school

Just revisiting this one, Dirt Farmer by Levon Helm. I picked this one up a few years ago at a music sale, think I might have posted something about it before, but can't quite remember when that was.

Can't go wrong with these two for a start                Cheers,   Keith    

Don't know allot about country. Every now and then I hear a track that grabs me and I've collected a few of those over the years, though they're pretty main stream as country goes.

 

Now and then I put the country music channel on TV to see if there's something new that takes my fancy, but allot of it seems to be getting indistinguishable from pop or folk rock but a decade or so behind.  A friend of mine who's a singer tells me this is the trend at the moment and it gets labelled count-pop by the insiders who aren't doing it (though I don't know if this is just sour grapes because they're not in Brad Paisley's income bracket). It seems that now more than ever, the genre distinction is more about lyrical content than sound; pick-up trucks, girls in tight jeans and what not seem to be popular topics at the moment.

 

Even the last few country town rodeos I've been to seem to have featured heavily non-county play list, with Milky Chance, Eminem and AC DC appearing more than anything definably country.

 

In general terms, how is alt-country different from just country?

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Don't know allot about country. Every now and then I hear a track that grabs me and I've collected a few of those over the years, though they're pretty main stream as country goes.

 

Now and then I put the country music channel on TV to see if there's something new that takes my fancy, but allot of it seems to be getting indistinguishable from pop or folk rock but a decade or so behind.  A friend of mine who's a singer tells me this is the trend at the moment and it gets labelled count-pop by the insiders who aren't doing it (though I don't know if this is just sour grapes because they're not in Brad Paisley's income bracket). It seems that now more than ever, the genre distinction is more about lyrical content than sound; pick-up trucks, girls in tight jeans and what not seem to be popular topics at the moment.

 

Even the last few country town rodeos I've been to seem to have featured heavily non-county play list, with Milky Chance, Eminem and AC DC appearing more than anything definably country.

 

In general terms, how is alt-country different from just country?

The country music channel has nothing to do with country music

In fact it has nothing to do with music

Hank Williams Johnny Cash Patsy Cline George Jones Merle Haggard and The Carter Family and many others from the 40's 50's 60's 70's are country music when country radio played songs these were the singers that were played

As in all music there was a mixture of the good the bad and the ugly

Like rock music in the 70's all the good stuff simply disappeared from public site and was replaced by what you see on country TV

Country music is sad broken heart songs and stories about characters who inhabit the songwriters world or imagination

And of course she left me and the dog dies stuff

Americana or Alt country is basically young people reclaiming the original music and rephrasing it in today's terms just as The Beatles and the Stones remade the black music that they loved as young people

The Ramones Sex Pistols The Clash did it again in 70's and Nirvana again in the 80's

Without writing an essay country music was originally music of the rural south in America White mans blues so to speak

I think it is the best music around now in terms of emotional connection and the strength of the writing

We'll worth the effort to get to know it and if you are interested I could list some of the easier stuff to listen to both in the early and new records to listen to

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I'm familiar with Cash, Cline, Robbins, Horton, Williams, Parton, Kristofferson and the Carters.  Outside of those guys, I know nothing and I'd be very interested in your listing some more accessible things to sample, both old and new, but especially lack any knowledge of the new, or where to start with it.

 

Thanks for taking the time to reply

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I'm familiar with Cash, Cline, Robbins, Horton, Williams, Parton, Kristofferson and the Carters.  Outside of those guys, I know nothing and I'd be very interested in your listing some more accessible things to sample, both old and new, but especially lack any knowledge of the new, or where to start with it.

 

Thanks for taking the time to reply

 

You could start with Gram Parsons, which should give you a fair bit to go on with. John Prine would be another to explore and if you can handle the female vocal, anything by Lucinda Williams. :love

 

Cheers,

 

Keith

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They are all great players in the country music world

Non of whom are played on country TV

Start with these records

The greatest example of country music blues and rock n roll ever recorded

They were made at the time Richards had become friendly with Gram Parsons who remains the one of the biggest influences on the Alt country music scene

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And cheeky boy is right

Gram Parsons is credited with the invention of country rock

Pure country music played with a rock and roll attitude

These are his solo records featuring Emmylou Harris in her first outing as a country music singer

These 2records can be purchased as a single cd for $10 which makes them the biggest bargain in music sales

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Johnny Cash is very well served by best ofs so try some of these

Love God Murder is a triple cd which covers all the big themes and the other are duets with June

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Now this one is from the 70's and is a contemporary band the nitty gritty dirt band long hair and dopers and democrats recording with their heroes the crew cut whiskey drinking republicans who are some of the greatest acoustic players ever born

Look the record up on the internet and read about it

A truly great record

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To listen properly you need to drop the 21century way of thinking and soak up a language and non cynical view of the world that comes from a simpler time as they break your heart with simple words and sad voices as they pour out universal emotions on the subject of lurve and it's multitude of feelings

And just keep listening because over time you start to pick up on all the little nuances in both the words and music

But from the sound of what you listed above you are in the thick of it not around the edges

My experience is that most people don't know what country music is and confuse it with that TV sham and lee Kernigan or Nicole Kidman's husband which has nothing to do with it

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This is barely scratching the surface so I'll keep posting over time

Justin Townes Earle the Delines and my favourite Australian band since the Triffids and the Go Betweens Halfway are all playing in Brisbane over the next month or so

Don't miss Justin Townes Earle he plays an old sounding but contemporary sounding music and is or will become one of the great practitioners of country music if he survives his problems over the coming decades

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Bluegrass is American country music which evolved from the music brought across to the US by Irish and Scottish immigrants.

 

There remains a very close connection between the musical styles, and many musicians, both American and Irish, freely cross over between them.

 

Check out the Transatlantic Sessions DVDs for some fine examples of musicians from both sides of the atlantic playing together in session (there are plenty of clips on YouTube). Alison Krauss, Roseanne Cash, James Taylor, Emmylou Harris have all appeared in this series (just to name a few).

 

To my mind this is the real country music.

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Bluegrass is American country music which evolved from the music brought across to the US by Irish and Scottish immigrants.

 

There remains a very close connection between the musical styles, and many musicians, both American and Irish, freely cross over between them.

 

Check out the Transatlantic Sessions DVDs for some fine examples of musicians from both sides of the atlantic playing together in session (there are plenty of clips on YouTube). Alison Krauss, Roseanne Cash, James Taylor, Emmylou Harris have all appeared in this series (just to name a few).

 

To my mind this is the real country music.

List some of the players current and past for daemon d to listen to

The less pure stuff might be good just to get a feel for it

I love bluegrass and recently spent a whole day in Bangalow listening to it

Next year the one day bluegrass day will be 2 days

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I take it everyone has heard the Nitty Gritty record

Listening to it now

If you have a good stereo you are doubly blessed

Sounds incredible all that instrumentation played across the soundstage

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List some of the players current and past for daemon d to listen to

The less pure stuff might be good just to get a feel for it

I love bluegrass and recently spent a whole day in Bangalow listening to it

Next year the one day bluegrass day will be 2 days

 

Here are a few others who have appeared on the Transatlantic Sessions you might want to check out.

 

Dan Tyminski - a member of Alison Krauss's band.

 

Bruce Molsky - American Appalachian style fiddle player

 

Jerry Douglas - plays resonator guitar and lap steel (he pretty much runs the TA sessions)

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Here is a wonderful discourse on the 2nd saddest song i have ever heard written by

Will Stenberg is a writer, reader, musician, bartender, lover, fighter, and husband, originating from the wilds of Northern California and currently residing in Portland, Oregon.

Someone once said that all of philosophy is a footnote to Plato. One thinker begins the preoccupations and concerns that thousands of others later explore, from thousands of angles. Even a rejection of these founding concerns is a response to them. You can’t escape from the influence of your parents, whether your response is obedience or rebellion.

In a similar manner, the Hank Williams composition “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry†is the country song to which all others are footnotes, explications, reiterations, arguments. Even a song with no obvious relation – say a throwaway piece of pop-country that consists mostly of forced hip-hop references and automobile product placement – lives under that shadow, because the composer had to make a conscious choice to write about the peripheral and the trending, knowing full well that he is operating in the same genre that produced this edifice, this obelisk, this great somber monument to spiritual desolation.

Hank originally wrote the song as a recitation for his alter ego, Luke the Drifter, a persona he created in order to explore themes that might not go over very well with the jukebox industry that was a major source of his income. Lots of sermons, narratives, moral fables. Not stuff you want to hear in a bar. “Lonesome†wouldn’t really work in the Luke the Drifter catalogue, though – it has neither moral nor narrative – and at some point Hank must have realized this. So he sung it rather than spoke it, and put it out under his own name.

There is no story to this song. And it’s not really the kind of internal emotional snapshot that was his other speciality. Instead, it describes an external landscape that allows the audience entry into the less-accessible, internal places that are beyond the reach of words, like an Expressionist painting, or a haunting photograph that says more than it shows – maybe a photo of a tree on a hilltop that was really there, that anyone could have walked past, but you look at the photo and think: “The photographer had a broken heart.â€

“Lonesome†involves more than visuals though; all of the senses come into play. Here is the first verse:

Hear that lonesome whippoorwill

He sounds too blue to fly

That midnight train is whining low

I’m so lonesome I could cry

Appropriately, the first thing the singer invites us to do is hear. Not to hear him, however, but to hear the sounds he hears, the sounds behind this voice that Bob Dylan once described as sounding like “a beautiful horn.â€

First, we hear the whippoorwill. The eerie, evocative call of this nightbird has given birth to much folklore, many superstitions. It is a harbinger of death that captures souls. It is an omen of impending disaster. But it is none of these things in the song. Any duties it may have as a supernatural agent have been put aside, because it is too blue even to fly. It can only sing its provocatively mournful song. The singer hears, and responds with his own cry of sorrow: two songs reflecting each other over a bed of steel guitar.

Then, another sound. The train whistle. Trains of course are endemic in country, folk and blues music. The effect the introduction of rail-travel had on the consciousness of the ordinary American was seismic, total. Suddenly people whose lives had been limited to the radius of a few square miles had the ability to jump on a moving train and change everything – their location, their name, their work, their friends and family. Especially in the days before the dominance of mass-media created our one shared monoculture, one ride on a train could put you in a different world, with different ways of speaking and dressing, playing and working, dancing and thinking. Trains in the old songs often represented freedom, escape, and re-invention.

Not so here. The singer has nowhere to go, or no ambitions to go anywhere. Instead the train whistle is just another sound in the strange symphony he hears. (I always picture him sitting at a window in the early evening, listening, watching, utterly passive.) Rather than tell him anything about the outside world, the world beyond his window, the solipsistic narrator hears a harmony to his own sadness in every sound around him. The whippoorwill is singing for him, the train is whining low in tribute to his devastation. The world outside him is the world inside him: each contains the other.

The second verse:

I’ve never seen a night so long

when times goes crawling by

The moon just went behind a cloud

to hide its face and cry

Time slows, a river that once rushed is now lurching over stones and gravel, attempting to find its course. The depressed know this feeling, this sluggish stasis. He has never seen a night so long. Outside, the world goes about its business: the nightbirds awaken to sing, the trains pass by on their appointed routes. But in the house, the singer sits by the window in suspended animation. Everything he sees moves slowly, pushing against an obstacle – something in the way.

His sadness, it seems, is cosmic. When the moon moves behind a passing cloud, it is as though it has pulled a veil over its face to hide its tears. Is it crying in sympathy with the singer, or crying over his inability to move, to escape the inertia of his sadness? It doesn’t matter. At this point, in this one unspeakable moment that stretches out over the night, even the moon itself is involved in the singer’s private pain.

The third verse:

Have you ever seen a robin weep

when leaves begin to die?

That means he’s lost the will to live

I’m so lonesome I could cry

“Have you ever seen a robin weep?†What a strange and unsettling question. Imagine it asked of you by a thin stranger with deep black eyes. You might turn and walk away with some speed. How odd that the singer is now asking you this question. Have you seen this thing – a robin weeping over the death of spring? Yes, you might respond – I guess I have. So he tells you what it means. But here the story gets murky. The published lyrics have always read, “That means he’s lost the will to live.†The suggestion is clear, but many listeners hear another, more direct lyric: “Like me, he’s lost the will to live.†You can listen closely and not be sure. But in truth the difference is minimal, unimportant. The singer has given up. Nature surrenders with him.

The fourth and final verse:

The silence of a falling star

lights up a purple sky

And as I wonder where you are

I’m so lonesome I could cry

I’m not the first person to comment on the seeming synesthesia in these lines. It is not the flare of the falling star but its silence that lights up the sky. The singer’s senses have become deranged, have begun to blend like damp watercolors. But in truth even those of us with more traditional sensory perceptions can, perhaps, understand. Think of what it is like to witness a falling star: the sudden flash, the brief, cosmic sprint across the night sky. A falling star should be momentous, gigantic, deafening. But it is not; it comes and goes without a sound; silence may be its defining characteristic. That silence really can light up the sky, if you let it. And how much more so when everything else around you is speaking: the train whistle in the dim distance, the whippoorwill in the hickory tree, the robin whose call echoes in your memory? Then, suddenly – and slowly, because time has slowed – a falling star crosses the purple sky in utter, engulfing silence.

And you feel a chill. I say “you†because you are the singer now. He has surrounded you by all the sights and sounds around him until the identification is complete. The philosopher David Hume believed that there is no self, that a person is merely an aggregation of all of their experiences and sense-perceptions and memories. That’s true in this song, at least, and as Hank Williams slowly fills you with his sense-perceptions, these replace your own until you yourself are sitting by that window, and you yourself are stuck in a moment outside of time, in a sorrowful feedback loop with nature itself.

And then, as that falling star scars the sky, in that instant, you wonder about someone. About where they are in this moment. This person could be a lover, is often assumed to be by listeners. But they are not identified. They could be a parent, a friend, even a child. They could have left, or they could be dead.

There are some who resent the sudden intrusion of the personal into this masterpiece of evasion and abstraction. The singer could have finished the song without hinting at a reason for the pervasive desolation. But that would have been a lesser song. The technique he employed – to create a tapestry of loss that extends from birdsong and train-whistles to the very moon and stars themselves, and then, in the final “shot,†if you will, of the song, zoom in from this wide-angle perspective to a single person, a single loss, an actual, experienced, human source of heartbreak – this is the master-stroke.

“I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry†has none of the stereotypical hallmarks of country music. No boozing, no cheating, no God, no work, no marriage, no divorce, certainly no trucks. But it defines, for now and always, the existential loneliness that is the cold secret heart of the music, the reason it has never died, despite all the indignities it has suffered. Hank worked it out that way. “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry†describes a moment out of time, cast in perfect stillness forever. It really happened. It is happening now.

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Gene Clark was one of the original Byrds and the other chap in the picture is Roger McGuinn

An American national treasure

Carla Olsen has also played with Mick Taylor and is no slouch with a guitar herself

This is an album they made together with great singing writing and cover versions

Well worth tracking down

Clark is also one of country rocks great song writers in the late 60's and 70's but was another causality of the lifestyle

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@daemon d

Listened to any thing yet          

 

Hi Keyse, Just flew in from work, so not yet (no interwebs where I work).  I'm just now reading through the things you guys have recommended to listen to; much appreciated.

 

Also thanks for the bluegrass emesbee; not sure about the Jerry Douglas ones though. I have a couple of CDs where Jerry features, since they caught my ear a few years back, but I got tired of them pretty quickly. There's something very repetitive and formula about the tracks, like elevator music with traditional instruments. The guy can for sure play, but new composition isn't the strong point.

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Justin Townes Earle is playing at the Brisbane Tivoli on Wed 22

In 30 years time JTE will be up there with all the people he admires as one of the great country music artists of all time

There are a lot of great players around at the moment but JT has it in his veins

A casually great performer

On the following Sunday a day of country music in The Valley with a variety of players including Halfway who I think are the best Australian band since The Triffids and the Go Betweens

Also with The Delines a new band that playa sort of bleak film noir type of literate country music

On November 7th at Enoggra Halfwy and Robert Forster are playing a free all ages show at the Bowls Club I think it is

Forster produced the last 2 Halway records so I am hoping and praying to the Gods of Country music that they will play together as well as separately

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I'm going to see Justin Townes Earle Saturday night. Looking forward to a full backing band as the previous two times have been more or less solo shows. He certainly is brilliant, his music & personality connects with me much more than his fathers work ever has, similar to how Jeff Buckley did.

Then the weekend after it's Ryan Bingham, another world class talent (Academy Award....) doing a low key tour. Get in there ;-)

http://www.binghammusic.com/tour/

PS And now some 50% off tix available on the promoters website:

http://shop.lovepolice.com.au/lovepolicetours.products/tickets/ryanbingham2014/

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That is The Out on The Weekend tour so I will be seeng it in Brisbane

jTE is headlining that in Melbourne

Try and see The Declines if they play in WA

Also Hurray For The Riff Raff are touring in November

They are great

Their new album is probably the best record I will hear this year

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something new

something wonderful

Sam Doores and Riley Downing a new band from New Orleans and part of the Hurray For The Riff Raff collective

New Orleans not a traditional place for country music

old time music sound

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  • 2 weeks later...

Off to see Justin Townes Earle tomorrow in Brisbane and then staying up there in a hotel till next Monday so we can see Halfway and the Delines among others on Sunday

And spend time at Leftys bar drinking beer and listening to country music

On Friday night they have a bluegrass band playing

Yeeha

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A couple of weeks ago in my favorite bar in the world

Lefty's in Brisbane

Drinking beer listening to country music across the decades and then on comes a blue grass band

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The Delines

Saw this band in Brisbane a couple of weeks ago along with 50 other people

Has to be one of the best country music records this year

Moody echoey sound

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Adventures of Johnny Cash

His 68th record released in 1982 on Columbia Records

I know because i have them all in a box set of every release he made on Columbia

Some seriously bad records included but so much wonderful music all is forgiven

Thing about country music is that lyrically so many songs verge on corny that laughing is the first reaction

The saving grace for so much of it is the sincerity with which the songs are sung and knowing that a lot of the singers arn't just singing sad songs but are living out the subject matter in ways thet lend a reality to them not always found in rock songs

after listening to Mad Dogs and Englishmen i want to listen to Johnny Cash

Must be all that religion

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And you running down my country man

Your walking on the fighting side of me

Not exactly a left winger

But he sure can sing

One of the pillars of country music

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And here is Gram Parsons version. Love this one. It comes from the underrated (IMO) Sleepless Nights album which was compiled after Grams death. Possibly it does not get good press because the songs are all covers with no Gram originals. In any case the LP has been one of my most treasured for years.

 

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I'm not a Country person myself, but this I believe qualifies "Moonshine Sessions" (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Moonshine-Sessions-Bonus-Dvd-Solal/dp/B000TQAF7I/ref=sr_1_1?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1408591770&sr=1-1&keywords=Moonshine+Sessions). Wonderful singing of original & "countrified" songs with a snippet or two of conversations & a drawn out ending of a mixture of nature sounds, sounds & words paying due's to the "smokin" side of Country music.

 

Excellent sound quality, this one is desert island material for me & as has been mentioned elsewhere, country music for those not into country music. See youtube for listening samples.

 

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from one of the guys that brought you Gotan Project would you believe?

http://www.moonshinesessions.com

also not quite country but has that deep southern laidback swamp groove try Boozoo Bajou's collaborations with Tony Joe White

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some great alt country via cowpunk I give you 80's stalwarts Rank and File

try and find yourself a copy of Sundown

crank this one up to eleven, On This Train the Conductor wears Black

featuring Alejandro Escovedo and the Kinman brothers

 

 

http://www.amazon.com/Sundown-Rank-File/dp/B00078GHO8/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1421113292&sr=8-2&keywords=rank+and+file

 

< Before the Americana/No Depression music came out, there was Rank And File. Back then it was known as Cowpunk (whatever that meant) as the Kinman Brothers, formerly leading the Punk band Dils, moved to Austin and recruited then unknown Alejandro Escovedo and Slim Evans and became Rank and File. On the album, side one had some heavy hitters such as Amanda Ruth (later covered by the Everly Brothers), Glad I'm Not In Love, and the band named Rank And File to which they throw in part of Ernest Tubb's Thanks a Lot to really throw a curve and The Conductor Wore Black to end things out on a classic note. >

 

the Kinman brothers went on to form Cowboy Nation, much more country, superb harmonies, have a listen, you'll be entranced

 

http://www.amazon.com/Journey-Out-Time-Cowboy-Nation/dp/B00004TE0T/ref=sr_1_1?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1421113489&sr=1-1&keywords=cowboy+nation

 

http://www.amazon.com/We-Do-As-Please/dp/B00005NBY0/ref=pd_sim_m_1?ie=UTF8&refRID=15WCFNPZ9NZ741C12GXQ

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some great alt country via cowpunk I give you 80's stalwarts Rank and File

try and find yourself a copy of Sundown

crank this one up to eleven, On This Train the Conductor wears Black

featuring Alejandro Escovedo and the Kinman brothers

 

 

http://www.amazon.com/Sundown-Rank-File/dp/B00078GHO8/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1421113292&sr=8-2&keywords=rank+and+file

 

< Before the Americana/No Depression music came out, there was Rank And File. Back then it was known as Cowpunk (whatever that meant) as the Kinman Brothers, formerly leading the Punk band Dils, moved to Austin and recruited then unknown Alejandro Escovedo and Slim Evans and became Rank and File. On the album, side one had some heavy hitters such as Amanda Ruth (later covered by the Everly Brothers), Glad I'm Not In Love, and the band named Rank And File to which they throw in part of Ernest Tubb's Thanks a Lot to really throw a curve and The Conductor Wore Black to end things out on a classic note. >

 

the Kinman brothers went on to form Cowboy Nation, tttmuch more country, superb harmonies, have a listen, you'll be entranced

 

http://www.amazon.com/Journey-Out-Time-Cowboy-Nation/dp/B00004TE0T/ref=sr_1_1?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1421113489&sr=1-1&keywords=cowboy+nation

 

http://www.amazon.com/We-Do-As-Please/dp/B00005NBY0/ref=pd_sim_m_1?ie=UTF8&refRID=15WCFNPZ9NZ741C12GXQ

Good grief

I thought i was the only person in Australia to have this record

I bought this then the second one a more mellow country record and then the third one

Which turned out to be from memory a loud punk rock electric guitar noise fest complete with left wing lyrics!

I now own 2 Cowboy Nation cds and they are very traditional country and western songs almost in the Roy Rogers Gene Autrey style

Alejandro Escovedo plays on the first Rank anf File record and has become one of my favourite rock n rollers voted by No Depression magazine as person of the 90's

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This is Cisco Houston a contemporary of Woody Guthrie

Dark as a Dungeon written by Merle Travis about coal miners and life underground

Covered by literally hundreds of players over the years

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More Cisco Houston this time singing Deportee a Woody Guthrie song

It goes without saying that the song is not sympathetic to the treatment of refugees

Another country in another time but the attitudes remain the same

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@ it's a toss up but probably my favourite country singer

Listening to this because you mentioned it

The first time i heard GP was when i bought his solo albums

Not having any knowledge of country music at the time i thought he was a totally original singer

Decades later i know he is one in a long line of broken hearted singers especially Merle Haggard

The stuff with Emmylou is i think the best duet singing i have ever heard and that includes the Louvin Brothers and the Everly Brothers

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Just read an article from Pitchfork about this record

Possibly the best record she has ever made and a contender for best record of 2014 but

Un reviewed in some music magazines and largly ignored in best of lists for 2014

Too old?

I think it is the best country record i heard last year

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