Classic Americana Compilations “UNCUT Presents: Americana 2004”

Magazine cover discs come and cover discs go, sometimes there’s a track or two that sparks an interest – I first encountered The Decemberists via a disc from Word magazine, that was a good find. Just a few, though, are quite literally life-changing.  That may sound like terrible hyperbole but in the case of Uncut’s ‘Americana 2004‘ disc it is quite true. Mainstream popular music in the Nineties had pretty much been a washout for me and I was doing little more than keeping up with the likes of Dylan and Neil Young with the occasional other breakthrough album or artist, but mostly I was back exploring the richer world of folk which was generally finding far more imaginative paths. And this was ok, but I needed some new directions, some new bands, some new voices. And then on a long journey North I picked up at a motorway service station, almost on a whim, the latest issue of Uncut – I can’t really say why, certainly the front cover of The Cure’s Robert Smith was not a big selling point. As the journey went on and the traffic got slower I decided to switch from the radio to the ‘Americana 2004‘ cover disc. And everything changed. Continue reading “Classic Americana Compilations “UNCUT Presents: Americana 2004””

Classic Album Review: Cowboy Junkies “The Trinity Session” (RCA, 1988)

This is arguably the slowest album ever recorded. It is surely ironic, therefore, that it was recorded in (almost) a single session on 27th November 1987 with no mixing, overdubs or edits. The recording was made on a single Calrec Ambisonic Microphone in the Church of the Holy Trinity in Toronto. The church was picked for its natural reverb and the session was booked under The Timmins Family Singers for a Christmas special. Continue reading “Classic Album Review: Cowboy Junkies “The Trinity Session” (RCA, 1988)”

Classic Americana Compilations “Silver Meteor – A Progressive Country Anthology” (Sierra Records, 1980)

What makes a great compilation? Good music is a must obvious, the historical importance of some of the tracks, certainly, rare and forgotten tracks and artists that nevertheless capture an elusive something that was in the air for a golden period definitely helps. All these apply to ‘Silver Meteor – A Progressive Country Anthology’ and if there is any lingering doubt as to how great this compilation is then the fact that it came in at number eleven on Uncut magazine’s list of the 50 Greatest Lost Albums is the clincher. Continue reading “Classic Americana Compilations “Silver Meteor – A Progressive Country Anthology” (Sierra Records, 1980)”

Classic Americana Albums: Dwight Yoakam “Guitars, Cadillacs Etc. Etc.” (Reprise Records, 1986)

When Dwight Yoakam’s debut album ‘Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc. Etc.’ was released in 1986 it was completely at odds with the prevailing trend in country music towards a soft ‘crossover’ sound. A look at some of country’s best selling records of that year show just how far away from its folk roots country music had strayed. Alabama, Exile, Juice Newton, Anne Murray, Ronnie Millsap and Marie Osmond – all had insipid and diluted down number one records aimed at the wider market. The big record companies were even turning their backs on country legends like George Jones and Merle Haggard, by then seen as too country for mainstream tastes. Continue reading “Classic Americana Albums: Dwight Yoakam “Guitars, Cadillacs Etc. Etc.” (Reprise Records, 1986)”

Classic Album Review: Rosanne Cash “Seven Year Ache” (Columbia,1981)

Rosanne Cash’s second album for Columbia Records was a turning point in her career. Although Grammy Awards came later, it was with ‘Seven Year Ache’ that Cash announced herself to the world as a major songwriting and singing talent. It was a commercial success, reaching number one on the Billboard Country Chart and number 26 on the mainstream Billboard Chart. Two of the album’s three Country Chart-topping singles were written by Cash herself, ‘Blue Moon with Heartache’ and the title track, ‘Seven Year Ache’, which also reached number 22 on the pop charts. Continue reading “Classic Album Review: Rosanne Cash “Seven Year Ache” (Columbia,1981)”

Classic Americana Compilations – Sounds to remember

There was a time when the free CDs glued to the front of magazines were something other than a revenue stream for the publishers, and every so often a reminder of the glory days pops up. Back in September 1998 Uncut Magazine came with a CD called ‘Sounds of The New West‘. It was designed to accompany an article introducing New Country/Alt. Country/Americana to those scared of the word Country. What you got was a cracking compilation that should have sent you off to investigate the rest of the genre, whatever you wanted to call it. Now fully 19 years and change later we have volume five. The series of CDs makes for a good study in how tastes in Americana have shifted over the last couple of decades. Continue reading “Classic Americana Compilations – Sounds to remember”

Classic Americana Album: Various Artists “This One’s For Him: A Tribute To Guy Clark”

Describing ‘This One’s For Him’ as a classic Americana album might seem surprising given it’s entirely made up of cover versions. Also, in no way does ‘This One’s For Him’ constitute a “breakthrough”  moment in the history of Americana like – to cite an obvious case – Uncle Tupelo’s ‘No Depression’. Nor yet is ‘This One’s For Him’ one of those back-to-the-roots folk albums that a more mainstream artist like Bruce Springsteen occasionally pulls out of the hat and which, as said album soars to sales levels beyond the wildest commercial dreams of most Americana artists, is nevertheless dubbed “classic Americana” by the mass media.
Continue reading “Classic Americana Album: Various Artists “This One’s For Him: A Tribute To Guy Clark””