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coupla more gems by

April 16th, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

TOM PAXTON
earnest folk revival folkie (white)
penned “bottle of wine” (included in albums of his in station)
–rightly famous, his loosest, catchiest tune to my knowledge
as far as subjects go, drinking has a tendency to bring out the best in stiff folkie folks
(curious listeners will also seek out the porter wagoner cover on porter’s “skidrow joe” concept album)
not a big tom paxton fan


PINE VALLEY COSMONAUTS – EXECUTIONER’S LAST SONGS, VOL. 1+2

curated by mr. jon langford of the mekons (those country-lovin’ brits), these compilations were all about ending the death penalty in illinois in the early 2000s blah blah blah and thus feature plenty of Chicago country stars singing songs about death
also: these were some of my first favorite country music albums
and though they were admittedly a weird entry point into the world I love so passionately these days, they are also v. v. good
murder ballads galore! both new and old
I cannot recommend these enough (esp. if you are afraid of lovey dovey country schmaltz – none of that here)
the back-up band is pretty standard rootsy but the wide variety of songs and singers let them stretch in interesting ways
healthy dose of 90′s cowpunk but also pretty, traditional


JIM & JENNIE & THE PINETOPS – ONE MORE IN THE CABIN

traditionalist bluegrass couple
they thankfully seem to lack the kinda common 2nd/3rd wave emphasis on virtuosity and technique
though of course these folks are no slouches when it comes to pickin and pluckin
requisite high lonesome singing style, but more tuneful in their case than it can sometimes seem
unafraid to incorporate specifically none-bluegrass traditional country into their repertoire
obv. on account of my bias I tend to prefer these (slower numbers, esp.), but they’re all good
other albums in the stacks of a similar, consistently good quality
“the light of day” is beautiful

this one is good

EDDIE PENNINGTON – WALKS THE STRINGS … AND EVEN SINGS
legendary picker shows off his skills!
mix of acoustic and electric numbers
eddie mostly sticks to merle travis-style thumb-picking
and some might say he out-travises merle (he may be the master of the style)
some cuts exhibit a distinct atkins slicker swingy style and a couple (esp. the bluesier ones he sings) lean toward piedmont blues thumbing
don’t worry if that all means nothing to you
he fills his measures to the brim – as thick as any fahey/kottke, any heavy metal shredder
but it’s also all about the fuckin melody!
these are virtuosic, show-offy studies that you can hum along to


PHRANC

she is a lesbian folk singer with a crewcut
who strums power chord political folk
we have lots of her albums
I met her when I was a little kid (name drop)
the review comments are better-written than her lyrics
but you might as well listen to a song or two

AUSTIN PITRE & HIS EVANGELINE BOYS– OPELOUSAS WALTZ
this album is wonderful, through and through
a live recording of some very distinctly hillbilly zydeco
evangeline boys got a real tight rhythm section and goddamnit if those twosteps and waltzes don’t make you wanna grab your sweetheart and swing
steel guitar on some tracks adds to distinct country flava
“jolie blonde” (his version of the standard) goes up there with the best versions of all time
listen to this album, seriously


JOHN PRINE – IN SPITE OF OURSELVES

john prine writes some of the best songs ever but kwur’s selection of his records unfortunately does not represent this well
this album features only one original song, for instance
but it’s also really good, so that’s okay
a collection of classic country duets, some of the best-ever love and loss songs
straight-up close country harmonies featuring iris dement, lucinda williams, patty loveless, et al.
listen to “(we’re not) the jetset” (originally by george and tammy) if you’ve ever fallen in love on the open road
“there’s no riviera in festus, missouri” — it’s true!
the one original tune (title track) is classic prine:
(iris singin’:)
“he ain’t got laid in a month of Sundays
I caught him once sniffin’ my undies
he ain’t real sharp but he gets things done
he drinks his beer like it’s oxygen
he’s my baby
I’m his honey
I’m never gonna let him go”

JIMMIE RODGERS – FIRST SESSIONS
the father of country music and her first true star
aka the blue yodeler (not yet called country songs, he called them blue yodels because he played the blues and then ya know he yodels!)
these are from his discovery sessions in 1927 in Bristol, Tennessee (the same sessions that discovered the Carter Family, Country Music’s 1st Family, naturally)
many of his songs were adapted from tin pan alley pop or just written by vaudeville songsmiths
and that high drama yodel comes from vaudeville (used in lots of blackface routines, actually)
of course jimmie rodgers was an incredible singer, fucking tremendous yodeler
and whoever strung these folk strains into pop songs (sometimes it’s jimmie, sometimes a ghost writer or a credited songwriter) was a pop lyrical genius, a direct predecessor of the chuck berry school of humble, rabid-fire, allusive and specific details
he already had tuberculosis when these were recorded so he was a martyr before he died and his pr men totally milked this for implied gravitas btw
these songs are all classics so listen to them

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