Rough Trade offer some of the greatest compilations around, this one is up there with the best ones: Rough Trade Shops, Electronica Vol I & Rock'N'Roll and is less academic that the Post Punk one released earlier this year. As usual there are two packed discs, taking in what has been tagged alt-country from the 80s onwards.
So many great tracks here- it's great to see The Gun Club represented, Ghost on the Highway (from classic Fire of Love) is mindblowing stuff & contrasts well to Violent Femmes gothic Country Death Song (from Hallowed Ground,another staple alt-country album) Many great American artists are here: Handsome Family, the late Rainer, Giant Sand, Meat Puppets, Uncle Tupelo, Steve Earle, Jim White, Freakwater, Lucinda Williams, Calexico...totally packed (despite some obvious omissions, eg Lambchop).
X's Riding with Mary (from Under the Big Black Sun) is a key track, as is The Replacements'Take Me Down to the Hospital (from early classic Hootenany). Ditto Mekons' Lost Highway & Whiskeytown's Houses on the Hill (from Ryan Adams best album so far, Strangers Almanac). A great cover of Dylan's rarity Blind Willie McTell from Dream Syndicate closes the first disc, & it's always great to have Green on Red represented (easily as great as REM, just no one noticed!). The Rockingbirds is a novel choice & its nice to hear a track from Jayhawks/Soul Asylum/Wilco-spin off Golden Smog! The greatest song here remains American Music Club's Gary's Song, a melancholic masterpiece from their second album Engine...a reminder of AMC's importance & Eitzel's brilliance. When will someone reissue the first four deleted AMC albums, The Restless Stranger-Engine-California-United Kingdom??????
This is a great compilation, probably the best released this year alongside Lost in Translation, Worlds of Possibility, At Least You Can Die With a Smile on Your Face, the Loose-collection & Infecting the Galaxy One Planet at a Time. Rough Trade rule & at this price, this twin-set needs to be owned! Best alt-country primer/compilation I've seen so far, the Nuggets of the genre! Why wasn't Mark Lanegan on it though?
on 21 December 2003
Put away your boots and guns, put away your stetson, son. If you thought country music was dead. Think again. This is a rip-roaring, hip-snorting, root'n'tootin' compilation of today's best Americana. Stand out tracks include Brownsville Girl by Jim White and Gin and Juice by The Gourds. Miss this at your peril.