AUK’s top 10 americana albums ever: Dave Jarman

The search continues folks. Yes, its time to put yet another AUK writer into the hot seat. All each one has to do is to cast their eye across the whole history of americana and pick out just 10 albums that represent their personal top 10 ever. Simple really, only it’s not, as most have testified. In fact, if it wasn’t for this wretched pandemic, then the country’s hospitals would almost certainly be packed to the rafters with AUK writers suffering from nervous exhaustion, anxiety, palpitations and flashbacks to the ones they forgot to include. This week Dave Jarman steps nervously forward to join in with this act of collective masochism:

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UK americana festivals go virtual for the end of summer

Sadly in the end there were none – all the hopes americana festival-goers had for a late summer blow out were dashed by news earlier this month that Red Rooster wouldn’t in fact be going ahead as planned with social distancing, but the organisers have announced another virtual version of it (they previously did something in May) which will take place from 4th-6th September. Continue reading “UK americana festivals go virtual for the end of summer”

Various Artists “Pandemophenia” (Bloodshot Records, 2020)

Mention the  Chicago music scene to anyone and the Southside blues of Muddy Waters may spring to mind, others may recall a vibrant soul scene which included the Impressions and Curtis Mayfield, the Chicago folk scene gave us Roger McGuinn, John Prine and Steve Goodman, but the Chicago country scene? It may surprise some readers that  Chicago was once the centre of the country music industry. The same economic factors that drove Southern blacks north from the Mississippi Delta, also influenced Appalachian and Southern whites which lead to a vibrant local scene supported by WAL-MS’s National Barn Dance radio show. Eventually the music wound down, with The Grand Ole Opry and Nashville taking precedence, however bluegrass continued to be popular from the ‘60s to the ‘90s as part of the folk scene with The Sundowners continuing to fly the local country flag. The Sundowners were a major influence on alt country’s Robbie Fulks. Continue reading “Various Artists “Pandemophenia” (Bloodshot Records, 2020)”

Classic Americana Albums: Nick Lowe “The Impossible Bird” (Demon Records/Upstart, 1994)

Nick Lowe has reached the exalted position of a national treasure, with appearances on Breakfast TV and various TV chat shows and coverage in the national press. This was definitely not the case in 1993, when, after a period of falling sales, he found himself without a major record deal, his latest push for mainstream success, the group Little Village with Ry Cooder, John Hiatt and Jim Keltner, had not delivered artistically or commercially and, while he had a legendary reputation with fellow musicians, particularly in America, he was struggling to re-start his career. Fate then took a hand when Curtis Stigers was asked to record a cover of Nick’s ‘What’s So Funny ’bout Peace, Love And Understanding’ for ‘The Bodyguard’ film soundtrack. While the song didn’t appear in the actual film, it was included on the soundtrack album which sold 45 million copies giving Nick a seven-figure payday. Continue reading “Classic Americana Albums: Nick Lowe “The Impossible Bird” (Demon Records/Upstart, 1994)”

10 country rock tracks by UK artists

Country rock is a genre of music that was developed in America in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s by American rock musicians adopting country flavourings and as a genre lasted until the end of the’70s. That’s a fairly standard definition of country rock but this list looks chronologically at  10 country rock tracks by UK artists just to show that it wasn’t just happening in the States. All the artists at the time were viewed as significant rock or new wave artists or at the very least acts with commercial potential so at the time were part of the then-current mainstream. Continue reading “10 country rock tracks by UK artists”

AUK’s Chain Gang: Nick Lowe “Cruel To Be Kind”

More cruelty this week, from Americana royalty Nick Lowe, but from over four decades ago, when this was always on TOTP and it was seen as power pop. Endless chains could come from this, bands – whether backing, past or future, collaborations, productions, his wife (that’s his real wedding footage), her family in the background etc. Great fun. Next.

Book Review – Will Birch “Cruel to be Kind: The Life and Music of Nick Lowe” (Da Capo Press, 2019)

My first thought on getting this book was that Nick Lowe wrote some good songs and has been around the music scene for a while, so this could be an interesting read. By the time I’d finished the book I was feeling grateful to have walked this earth at the same time as the music legend that is Nick “Basher” Lowe! Nick Lowe has built a fascinating career in music without ever really becoming a major rock star – yet, when you see his accomplishments laid out on paper, it’s hard to believe that it’s all the work of one man; and a man who is just a musical footnote to many. Continue reading “Book Review – Will Birch “Cruel to be Kind: The Life and Music of Nick Lowe” (Da Capo Press, 2019)”

Nick Lowe and Los Straitjackets + Sinead Burgess, Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester, 9th June 2019

One dictionary definition of ‘perfection’ states that it is, “a state, variously, of completeness, flawlessness, or supreme excellence.” It is doubtful whether anyone at Nick Lowe’s sold out show tonight would have any hesitation in applying that definition to the man himself. From his earliest beginnings with Kippington Lodge and Brinsley Schwarz, it has always been apparent that Nick Lowe has a talent. His involvement with Stiff, and later Radar Records served to further underline that. However, the 1994 release of his ‘The Impossible Bird’ LP marked the beginning of a series of albums that have singled him out as one of the great British songwriters. Never one to stand still, Nick Lowe arrived tonight on the back of last year’s ‘Tokyo Bay’ single and this year’s ‘Love Starvation’ EP. On both releases Lowe is accompanied by Nashville instrumentalists Los Straitjackets and it’s they who are his current touring band. Continue reading “Nick Lowe and Los Straitjackets + Sinead Burgess, Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester, 9th June 2019”

Nick Lowe “Love Starvation/ Trombone” (Yep Roc Records, 2019)

He may be on the wrong side of 70 but Nick Lowe isn’t one for letting the grass grow underneath his feet and his latest EP is a case in point.  It may only be four songs long but his sharp lyrics and consistent ability to wrap the words around a catchy melody seems undiminished over time.  Supported admirably by the quirkily named (and even more quirkily masked and attired) Los Straitjackets, Lowe has penned three original tracks in the shape of  ‘Love Starvation’ ‘Trombone’ and the tender ‘Blue on Blue’ while the fourth song is a highly modernised cover version of the somewhat obscure Ricky Nelson track ‘Raincoat in the River’. Continue reading “Nick Lowe “Love Starvation/ Trombone” (Yep Roc Records, 2019)”

Los Straitjackets “What’s So Funny About Peace, Love and Los Straitjackets” (Yep Roc, 2017)

In which Los Straitjackets provide thirteen instrumental versions of Nick Lowe songs. They add their usual twang, and it ends up like a Shadows record without Cliff Richard. Mildly diverting at first and in the end a futile exercise, there isn’t really one song that sounds better as an instrumental, and no version really does anything astounding so you forget the vocal melody and they also slide into cheesy territory as Lately I’ve Let Things Slide shows where the melancholy is replaced with musical a kiss me quick hat. Continue reading “Los Straitjackets “What’s So Funny About Peace, Love and Los Straitjackets” (Yep Roc, 2017)”