AUK’s Chain Gang: James King and the Lone Wolves “Until the Dawn”

So let’s stay with Texas. Not much of a stretch for an americana oriented publication to connect two records by means of the lone star state I grant you, but perhaps not the connection that you may have been expecting. We are moving from Monahans to Glasgow. Hang on though, Texas – Glasgow… surely not? Don’t fret, there’s no mention of Sharleen Spiteri or ‘Black Eyed Boy’ anywhere. Instead we are getting much darker and scuzzier with James King and the Lone Wolves’ ‘Texas Lullaby’ EP from 1983 and in particular the song ‘Until the Dawn’.

Glasgow and the West of Scotland has always seemed to have a rootsy thing going. Peter Capaldi (who has his own middlin’ LP out there somewhere) observed that the area is a cauldron of the “melodrama and the sadness and the darkness and the joy that’s very present in country music”. Plenty of all that here, if a bit light on the ‘country music’ perhaps. In 1980s Glasgow the rootsy thing was in a period of smoothing out the edges and polishing the pop sheen in search of big label bucks. The roll call of bands with country-ish tinges was long and may still resonate with some today. How about Hipsway, Deacon Blue, Friends Again, Memphis, Danny Wilson, The Commotions (with Lloyd Cole of course), Aztec Camera, Del Amitri… Each and every one of them receiving attention and some kind of (short lived) success. We liked ‘em all at the time sure but for the majority, their remaining credibility demands less space than Alan McGee’s list of post Creation hits.

James King was almost a lone voice (hence the band name?) railing against this neutering of the ‘melodrama and darkness’ of the roots of the music being created. He (they) had more in common with noisy and troublesome oiks like The Jesus and Mary Chain or The Scars and they must have scared the living daylights out of the be-fringed fops and students in those other bands. The Lone Wolves were confrontational and menacing, occasionally being known to look for the chance to ruck with their audience and even each other. What is unusual and wonderful is that the ‘Texas Lullaby’ EP and this song in particular capture every scrap of this energy and menace. It remains a frighteningly ‘in ya face’ record even now over 40 years later. Listen and you will hear three minutes and two seconds of an unholy mess of velvets like, rockabilly informed rattle and screech, always seeming on the verge of falling apart but holding together enough to keep you banging the bejaysus out of your imaginary drums and the blood flowing red and raw through your veins.

You will notice on the clip we offer that there is one comment and one like. Despite reforming and releasing an actual LP – ‘Lost Songs of the Confederacy’ in 2013 and gigging sporadically since, JK & TLW still languish in virtual obscurity. I know, there are 100s, probably 1,000s of such bands out there but it’s just wrong; how the hell were this lot not massive?

 

About Guy Lincoln 46 Articles
Americana, New Country, Alt-country, No Depression, Twangcore, Cow-punk, Neo-traditionalists, Countrypolitan... whatever.

2 Comments

  1. Spot on Stephen. They were on there in 85 I think and in inimitable JK style he practically shouted a great big “fxxk” near the end of the song and that was that for their entire career. Almost.

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