AUK’s Back Pages No. 2

It’s 2005 and Americana UK is now in its fourth year. It’s the first full year that we distributed our monthly CD compilations to “Friends Of Americana UK,” i.e. those who had chipped in £5 a month in return for “A free 20 track CD delivered to your door twelve times a year packed with the some of the best and latest americana, alt-country and power pop we’ve been sent for review on the site that month.”

Tagged Volume Two and numbered one to twelve, all share the same cover design, a trend that was to continue although the design changed each year. With 20 songs per disc altogether they contain 240 songs (along with 12 “hidden tracks”), an invaluable time capsule (and much more memorable than whatever volume of ‘Now That is What I Call Music’ was current at the time. On the website itself there’s now a respectable number of reviewers (Matthew Bromley, Paul Bronks, David Cowling, Robin Cracknell, Peter Gow, John Hinshelwood, David Jenkins, Barry Jones, Paul Kerr, Michael Mee, Mark Phillips, Andy Riggs, Jeremy Searle, Mark Whitfield, Patrick Wilkins and Dan Wilkinson) and, viewing snapshots of the website via The Wayback machine we can see that we recommend that readers watch a new cable TV channel VH2 who had a show called ‘This is Americana’ which aired at midnight while, in April, we reported that Neil Young was recovering from surgery following a brain aneurysm. In an ever ongoing debate AUK recommends a link to an Observer article in an early stab at defining the term Americana (you can read that article here).

We also have an AUK top 10 album list which was  featured monthly in Maverick Magazine as a paid for advert while AUK’s activism is on display as we urge readers to support four campaigns close to our heart then, most pertinently, the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign.

Looking at the discs from January until April there’s a fair amount of well known names featured. Mary Gauthier, Bonnie “Prince” Billy, Poco, Smog, John Doe, The Minus 5, Josh Rouse, Bap Kennedy, Paul Brady, Great Lake Swimmers and Andrew Bird all pop up. There’s also well remembered names such as Case Hardin (whose Pete Gow was an AUK reviewer), Greg Trooper, South San Gabriel, Gina Villalobos, Christian Kjellvander, Kimberley Rew, The Sundowns and The Chris Stamey Experience.  Kennedy and Trooper have since left the planet but many of the aforementioned are still making music. To my surprise Jack Johnson is featured on the March CD with his song ‘Crying Shame’, taken from his mega selling album ‘In Between Dreams’ (maybe we missed a trick here).

That said, of the 80 artists here, most have, for this writer at least, faded into oblivion. I do recall Tracker as I reviewed their album ‘Blankets’ at the time and I still enjoy listening to it and I reckon that’s probably the case for many folk who might have fond memories of a disc purchased on the back of one of our reviews. In the first Back Pages column I asked what had happened to a couple of acts and amazingly folk got back to us in the comments so do feel free to share any memories or updates, especially regarding those who also served such as Chris Moore, The Broken Family Band, Majors Junction or Riviera whose song ‘Your American Past’ (on the April disc) sounds pretty fantastic.

As we’ve mentioned earlier, each disc has a “secret” extra track, chosen by our editor Mark. They appear after around a four minute silent gap as track 21. Respectively they are Tim Rogers ‘Last Night I Went and Left...’, Witness ‘My Time Alone’, Sister Hazel ‘A Beautiful Thing’ and January ‘Through Your Skies’. Interestingly the last of these appears on the first disc we mentioned in the first of our back pages column.

You can still be a friend of Americana UK in this digital age and, amazingly, it’s now cheaper to do so than it was in 2005. All details here.

Vintage screenshots grabbed via The Wayback Machine.

About Paul Kerr 432 Articles
Still searching for the Holy Grail, a 10/10 album, so keep sending them in.
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ANDY RIGGS

Great intro to new artists, at the time.

Richard

I going to say it again, and will keep saying it: please bring back the CD!