AUK’s Back Pages No. 3

Summer time’s here, kiddies and it’s time to take a trip. So let’s trip into the summer of 2005 with a look at the May – August discs (Vol. 2, numbers 5 to 8) delivered to friends of Americana UK. As usual each disc has 20 tracks (plus a hidden one at the end) so that’s 80 songs (+ four) to listen to as the days pleasantly pass by in a heat haze. Actually, I have no idea what the summer of 2005 was like weather-wise and I’m not going to Google that. If you insist on knowing then feel free to look it up and post in the comments below.

Before the discs, a short look at the website back then. There’s no radical changes in the design although we do have a nice new banner advert advising readers to protest against a proposed Identity Card law by writing to the then Labour Home Secretary Charles Clarke (we don’t need no stinking badges, one might say). For some reason our Paypal account only accepted Yankee dollars back then but, as the blurb pictured here says, probably appropriate given the nature of the site. Meanwhile our editor Mark’s humour is on display in his plea to join our mailing list.

In the live reviews section there’s a host of great names reviewed along with a couple of reviews of AUK House Concerts,  held at our editor’s place of residence in Liverpool. Strangely, both are by artists called Jason (Ringenberg and McNiff). Our writers ventured out to see, among others, Richmond Fontaine, The Handsome Family, Rodney Crowell, Mark Olson & the Creekdippers, Old Crow Medicine Show, Steve Earle, Aimee Mann, Neal Casal and Jefferson Starship at The Boom Boom Club in Sutton! For some reason we actually featured four reviews of the one show – Son Volt at the Islington Carling Academy on May 2nd. I wonder if our four reviewers (Pete Gow, Nick Fildes, James Clark and Patrick Wilkins) worked in collusion or were unaware of each others’ presence there. Fortunately, all four are unanimous in their praise of the recently unveiled Son Volt Mark 2 (featuring James Walbourne) and, perspective as ever, they all comment on Jay Farrar’s seemingly disinterested stage presence.

In the news items one post caught my attention, mentioning that Danny George Wilson’s link up with Simon Alpin and Josh Hillman (both regulars with The Willard Grant Conspiracy) could be termed a supergroup. This line up does seem to be a flash in the pan but of course Danny does have his own “supergroup” years later with Bennett Wilson Poole.

A huge part of the joy of writing this is the sheer nostalgia, the memories evoked by familiar songs not listened to in ages. Mark Mulcahey’s ‘Cookie Jar’ (from the album ‘In Pursuit Of Your Happiness’) on the May disc sent me scrambling to listen to the album again as did Terry Allen’s song (‘I Love Germany’) on the August edition. Anyhow, over the four discs we have big hitters such as Ryan Adams & The Cardinals, Loudon Wainwright III, Son Volt (of course), Richmond Fontaine, John Prine, Pernice Brothers, Laura Cantrell, Robbie Fulks and Emmylou Harris – you get the drift – along with others fondly remembered and those who have faded gently into oblivion.  Of the latter, two songs in particular stood out, both from the July disc. T Griffin Coraline’s ‘Submarine’ (from the album ‘The Sea Won’t Take Long’) is quite glorious in a engagingly skewed fashion (our reviewer, David Cowling said of the album that it was “something like the Beverley Hillbillies crashing into the Carter Family in a clock factory”). Thanksgiving’s ‘Responsibility’ (from the album ‘The River’) is a much darker beast, a song which makes Bill Callahan seem like a barrel of laughs. Of the pair, T Griffin nowadays is known for his film scores while Thanksgiving, AKA Portland-based songwriter Adrian Orange has apparently dropped off the radar having experienced mental health problems. He is still recording however if you check out his Bandcamp page.

The full tracklists

Finally, we can unveil the four hidden songs Mark added to the discs. We have The Thrills ‘Say It Ain’t So’, Chicago’s ‘In Terms Of Two’, Grant McLennan’s ‘Keep My Word’ and Brian Wilson with ‘South America’. No quibbles really with three of these and we have to congratulate Mark on actually finding a Chicago song which is half decent – presumably they were in their Doobie Brothers phase.

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 438 Articles
Still searching for the Holy Grail, a 10/10 album, so keep sending them in.
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David Cowling

Ah Paul, you’re getting me all nostalgic for those days. Sometimes I really miss writing those reviews and coming up with new ways to say the same things. Thanks.