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Saturday 31 October 2020

50 Americana Albums to Hear Before You Die - Enjoy the Melodic Sunshine


I know, I know .It is probaly not event Country Music let alone Americana but I don't really care, It is near the end of the series and there is hardly anyone still along for the ride. It's on the blue shelves so it is going in.

Never mind your Gram Parsons with his Cosmic American Music here are the Cosmic Rough Riders with some Cosmic Castlemilk Music.

From 2000 the masterpiece that is Enjoy the Melodic Sunshine is on Alan McGhee's Poptone label and includes some tracks from their two previous independent releases plus three new tracks

Allmusic makes reference to throwback California sun 'n' surf morning that never existed, the glistening harmonies, '60s light-pop touches, and over-earnest but well-mannered, tender lyrics and makes reference to Gordon Lightfoot, the Byrds and Teenage Fanclub

Trying to concieve the Cosmic Rough Riders’ opus in one sentence would sound something like this: The country incarnation of the Byrds from the end of the ’60s trying to play their mid-’60s songs with an addition of some Beatle/Chilton harmonies sung by C,S&N… - Pop Diggers

See I told you - Americana!

They had a few more albums but were at their best with their two main men of Stephen Fleming and Daniel Wylie. After Wylie left to go solo,  and releasing the excellent Ramshackle Beauty, they still came up with some pretty good records but they were never quite the same

Brothers and sister gather round and enjoy the melodic sunshine.

Cosmic Rough Riders - Brothers Gather Round

Cosmic Rough Riders - Revolution (In the Summertime)

Cosmic Rough Riders -Have You Heard the News Today?

Friday 30 October 2020

Asides from Uncle Tom

 2020 Charity Shop Purchases 53 - Buffalo Tom Asides From Uncle Tom

Buffalo Tom were always one of those bands whose name I was aware off but whose music I wasn't .
Then not as I originally thought as a couple of years ago but in fact as far back as  December 2016 I finally got round to picking up one of their albums (Big Red Letter Day)
When I posted it in the comments section the Robster stated that  If you come across their Best Of collection 'Asides From Buffalo Tom', buy it!

I must admit that his words were not in my mind when I spied it in Muir of Ord. On the basis of what I hadheard  before I would have picked up anything by them. This collection of some of their best known songs from 1988vto1999 totally justifies that decision.

Summer, which is one of the few tracks I had heard before is taken from their 1995 album Sleepy Eyed on the Beggars Banquet label In the sleevenotes band member Chris Colborn describes it as a sensory reminderof the anxious last few days of the rest of your life. Oh to be young and carefree again

Taillghts Fade is taken from their earlier 1992 third album Let Me Come Over.

Not really a duff track on the album although I could probably live without their fairly faithful cover of The Jam's Going Underground although they show it some respect and appear to be enjoying themselves.

Thursday 29 October 2020

And The Surrounding Mountains


 2020 Charity Shop Purchases 52 - Radar Brothers - And the Surrounding Mountains.

I'd never heard of Radar Brothers but was happy to take a punt as with the cover and album name and some of the other records I was picking up I was fairly certain that it was an Americana album. Well it is and it isn't.

Radar Brothers are an American band variously described as indie, slowcore and alt-country.Formed in 1993 And the Surrounding Mountains is their 3rd album from 2002 on Merge Records in the US and Chemikal Underground in the UK. I must admit that they fact they were own Chemikal Undersound threw me a bit.

The line up for this album is Jim Putman (guitar, vocals, keyboards), Senon Williams (bass) and Steve Goodfriend (drums)

The Chemikal Underground website describes it thus Melancholy it is, certainly, but in that warm, eye-watering way that makes you want to be in the company of friends in your favourite bar as the sun sets gently on the loch outside (everyone's favourite bar has a loch outside it right?) The Radar Bros. evoke such a brilliant sense of the outdoors, of longing and of thoughtful reflection that we suspect the only true place to listen to this album is on a long Greyhound bus journey as the landscape dances past the window...Do you think we're talking pish? We're not: it's true.

The AV Club feel that they are more interested in emulating the mellow moments of Meddle-era Pink Floyd than The Jayhawks or Low. Cant see it myself

I wasn't sure of it after the first play in the car but after a second play on the hi fi I am completely hooked. Achingly beautiful. Oh, and it's going on the Americana shelves

Radar Brothers - On the Line

Radar Brothers - Camplight

Wednesday 28 October 2020

Discover a Lovelier You

  2020 Charity Shop Purchases 51 - Pernice Brothers - Discover a Lovelier You

It is always good to discover an Americana album on your travels especially when the act in question have an album which has featured in my 50 Americana Albums to Hear Before You Die series

So I was fair chuffed to pick up Discover a Lovelier You by the Pernice Brothers as part of my Muir of Ord haul. From  2005 and on their own Ashmont Records label it is their fourth studio album and joins the previous three on the shelves. It was their fifth in total as it was preceded by the live album Nobody's Watching/Nobody's Listening which I don't have.

This time round the personnel were Joe Pernice, Thom Monahan, Peyton Pinkerton (great name), Patrick Berkery and James Walbourne

No real surprises just consistantly good songs albeit Pitchfork gives it a bit of a kicking. It does better on Amazon with 4.4/5 from 7 reviews with headings such as More understated brilliance, Beautiful, A great album and Central Pernice Content.I'm happy to settle for the latter

Pernice Brothers - Sell Your Hair

Pernice Brothers - Amazing Glow

Tuesday 27 October 2020

Start Again


2020 Charity Shop Purchases  50- Teenage Fanclub - Start Again (CD single)

Following our week in Alford we set off on a rainy Saturday moving from the East to the West Coast village of Lochcarron.

En route we took a slight detour to Muir of Ord in search of a bowl of soup. No soup was forthcoming but a ten minute stop at the Blythswood Care charity shop proved to be very fruitful indeed.

You never turn down an opportunity to pick up a Teenage Fanclub single particularly when it comes from their best album Songs of Northern Britain.

Start Again, a Norman Blake song, is the opening song on the album but was the third  and final single from  the album being released in October 1997 on the Creation label.

As is the way of these things there were two versions of the CD single .This one with a cover photograph by Donald Milne of Fort William Golf Club with Ben Nevis seems to be the most sought after of the two currently going for £7.95 on Discogs.

The female vocalist on the third track is Katrina Mitchell of The Pastels

Teenage Fanclub - Start Again

Teenage Fanclub - How Many More Years ?

Teenage Fanclub - Nothing To Be Done

Monday 26 October 2020

River Deep Mountain High 7


Deep down I always knew that Cry Me a River by Julie London would beat Kelly Hogan  with Wild Mountain Berries and she duly did by 7 votes to 2. However, it was encouraging to note the positive feedback for Ms Hogan and that as Rol noted  it was harder than folk thought it would be.

The scores on the doors  are now River 3 Mountain 2

This week it is Northern Soul versus Southern Soul with two songs taken from compilations.

On the river front and representing the South we have the great O.V. Wright  with Everybody Knows (The River Song) from Down and Out - The Sad Soul of the Black South.

I knew I had Love on a Mountain Top by Robert Knight somewhere and I finally tracked it down on The Best Northern Soul All- Nighter ... Ever!

 Do I love you, my oh my

River Deep or Mountain High?

O.V. Wright - Everybody Knows (The River Song)

Robert Knight - Love On a Mountain Top

Sunday 25 October 2020

The Songs of Robert Burns

 2020 Charity Shop Purchases 49 - Eddi Reader  - The Songs of Robert Burns Deluxe Edition

The final Alford offering is Deluxe version of the Songs of Robert Burns by Eddie Reader.Originally released in 2003 it was re-released  in  2009 as a Deluxe version with seven extra tracks to commemorate the 250th anniversary of the Bard's birth. Both versions were released on the Rough Trade label.Produced by fellowmusicians John McCusker and Boo Hewerdine who also form part of the backing band.

It was purchased before HAIM but I've held it back slightly as i felt that it was a more appropriate choice for a Sunday.Like HAIM it replaced  a copy on the shelves but unlike Haim this one is a keeper.

In the sleeve notes Eddi writes that  when her family were re-located from Arden in Glasgow to the Ayrshire new town of Irvine how it saved my life to be introduced to an alternative Scottish beauty and language... I often thought Robert Burns was for the highbrow and not the likes of me, the hardly educated, council estate, overspill girl. Now I see that I was wrong and that I am precisely the person Burns wrote for.

The album highlights that Burns was a great songwriter as well as a poet. Were he alive today it would be interesting to read his musings on everything that is currently going on.

Eddi Reader - Ae Fond Kiss

Eddi Reader - John Anderson My Jo

Eddi Reader - Green Grow The Rashes O

Saturday 24 October 2020

50 Americana Albums You Should Hear Before You Die - BR5-49


There is an arguement (and probably a pretty strong one at that) that BR5-49 are not actually an Americana band. It is more country with just a shade of rockabilly.

However in the music room there are two country sections - mainstream and the rest. The rest which is largely Americana occupy the blue shelves as opposed to the white ones and it is from the blue shelves that I selected the 50 albums for this series last November.

BR5-49 were a Nashville band . The name BR5-49 is  the telephone number of a used car dealer in a running comedy sketch from the American TV series Hee Haw

They lost the hyphen somewhere along the way around the time that they also lost their front man Chuck Mead. A word of advise  no hyphen there should equal no purchase.
Arguably you only need today's featured eponymous debut album from 1996 on the Arista Nashville label and the excellent mini album Live at Roberts also released in 1996.
They shone briefly but brightly.
I saw them live once on the Renfrew Ferry and it is up there in my top 20 gigs of all time (another potential series maybe)

There are a number of covers on the album including Hickory Wind and Crazy Arms but I have gone for three of their original compositions the first having been written by Gary Bennett and the other two by the aforementioned Chuck Mead.

You may well find yourself going Hillbilly Nuts if you give this a listen.

Friday 23 October 2020

Enter the Cougar


A wee break from the most recent haul.

A few weeks ago Mrs CC came in with some bits'n'bobs including two 1982 singles by John Cougar. Now John Cougar as I'm sure you are all aware is in fact John "Cougar" Mellencamp or more properly plain old John Mellencamp.

The Mellencamp was dropped by his label Riva and Mainstream Management as they considered it to be too Germanic to be marketable. The 70's were strange times . Fair play to him as once he made the commercial breakthrough he insisted that Mellencamp be restored

The two singles were from his breakthrough 1982 album American Fool which was his  fifth studio album. Although he looks about 14 he was in fact 31 at the time. He was quoted in 1984 as saying  to be real honest, there's three good songs on that record, and the rest is just sort of filler, 

Hurts So Good reached number 2 in the Billboard chart with Jack and Diane reaching number one. The third  one he referred to being Hard to Hold On To peaking at 19. No such success in the UK with only Jack and Diane charted and only reaching number 25.

It's a song that I've always had a bit of a soft spot for and until recognising  Hurts So Good was the only one of his that I was familiar with.

John Cougar - Hurts So Good

John Cougar - Jack and Diane

Thursday 22 October 2020

Days are Gone


2020 Charity Shop Purchases 48  HAIM  - Days Are Gone

Turns out that there was another charity shop in Alford right next door to the Dog Rehousing one which I hadn't notices before. It seemed rude not to pay it a visit. I can't remember what the charity was but the shop was very small and claustraphobic which is never pleasant  when you are waering a mask.

I felt obliged to make a purchase and duly parted with 50p for a copy of Days Are Gone the 2013 debut album by  the American sisters HAIM. I had a copy burnt from the library and thought it would be good to replace it. 

At least that's what I thought until I got round to listening to it. I've no idea what possessed me to copy it in the first place. I'm guessing it must have been the hype as it certainly wasn't the music. It reached number one in the UK selling over 200,000 copies in the process.

From the sublime of yesterday to the ridiculous.R&B pop mixed with synthesisers doesn't work for me. It's going back and the copy has been condemned to landfill. My mind will not be changed

Given the fact that HAIM appear to now be massive I'm sure they wont loss any sleep about that.

HAIM - Falling

HAIM - If I Could Change Your Mind

Wednesday 21 October 2020

His 'N' Hers

2020 Charity Shop Purchases 47 - Pulp - His'n' Hers

About a month of so ago I played Different Class for the first time in ages and I can't remember the last time that I played This is Hardcore. So did I realy need a copy of His'n' Hers?

This is clearly a rhetorical question as the answer is "yes of course, don't be silly, why wouldn't you need it"
Pulp's fourth album from 1994 on Island and the one which shot them to fame.

I'm a bit in the dark as to why I don't already have this.I must have passed it by on numerous occasions in charity shops perhaps thinking that I already had it. But I took the plunge in  Dog Rehousing charity shop in the Aberdeenshire town of Alford where we were staying just outside of on the first week of our holidays.

Nominated for the Mercury Music Prize (won by M People with Elegant Slumming) it was voted the 7th greatest album of all time by Q readers in 1998 and Virgin placed it at 110 in their Top 1000 albums.

Not sure I would go that far but it has ,not before time, filled a glaring gap on the shelves

Tuesday 20 October 2020

Sean-Nós Nua


2020 Charity Shop Purchases 46- Sinead O'Connor - Sean-Nós Nua

The final offering from the charity shops of Huntly is even better that Peabo and Roberta and the Steve Miller Band. Hard to believe but there you go.

From 2002 on the Vanguard Records label  Sean-Nós Nua is the sixth studio album from Sinead O'Connor. It consists of traditional Irish songs, the title meaning "new old-style" and also referring to the popular style of traditional Irish music Sean-Nós (but then again you all knew that)

Described by Amazon Music as a redefining moment in her wayward career, Pitchfork states that she  sounds very relaxed, and ultimately humbled by the ancient material. She resists the temptation to use her vocal tics and affectations; for the most part, she sings the words with a straightforward clarity and reverence.

All of which is around about way of saying that it is rather lovely 

Sinead O'Connor -Óró, sé do bheatha 'bhaile

Sinead O'Connor - Molly Malone

Monday 19 October 2020

River Deep Mountain High 6


The first post holiday RDMH post saw a slow start in votes  followed by a veritable  upsurge.

As a Weggie I am of course disappointed that Spinning Coin with Metranome River lost out 7-2  to Edinburgh's Motorcycle Boy with Big Rock Candy Mountain. That takes the running total to River 2 Mountain 2.

This week we focus on two female American vocalists with possibly the greatest voices of their respective eras.

We start back in the 50's with the great Julie London from Santa Rosa, California with the definitive version of the often covered Cry Me a River.

From the 50's we move to the 00's , 2000 to be precise , with Wild Mountain Berries a track from the album Beneath the Country Underdogfrom the equally great Atlanta born but Chicago based  Kelly Hogan. 

Two different areas, two different styles, two great songs and two great voices

 Do I love you, my oh my

River Deep or Mountain High?

Julie London - Cry Me a River

Kelly Hogan - Wild Mountain Berries

Sunday 18 October 2020

Born to Love

2020 Charity Shop Purchases 45 - Peabo Bryson & Roberta Flack - Born to Love

Still in Huntly and the only holiday vinyl aquisitions.
Flicking through some vinyl in the Red Cross shop the lady said there was some more in the back. One was the album above by Peabo and Roberta for a pound.

It includes Tonight I Celebrate My Love but given that you are all familiar with it I have gone for a couple of others. From 1983 which was not exactly a vintage year for soul. But hey it features Roberta Flack although when it comes to her duets I much prefer her work with the late great Donny Hathaway.

Mrs CC acquired Abracadabra by The Steve Miller Band for three quid. She wasn't sure whether she had her copy of it. She had..
From 1982. The early eighties  also weren't particularly a purple patch for AOR even although Steve and his band just want to reach out and grab ya.

Saturday 17 October 2020

50 Americana Albums You Should Hear Before You Die - Static Transmission


Steve Wynn in a top 50 Americana list. The Dream Syndicate Steve Wynn? The thrashy Paisley Underground Steve Wynn? Yes indeedy. 

Although vaguely aware at the time of The Dream Syndicate he first came properly  to my attention during his solo career in the early 90s.I've a couple of his solo albums (Melting in the Dark(1995) and Sweetness and Light (1997) )which fit neatly into the Americana genre.

I also saw him at King Tuts in 2002 as part of an acoustic Song Circle alongside Americana icons Walter Salas -Humara (The Silos) and the late Robert Fisher (Willard Grant Conspiracy).

However when it comes to his non Dream Syndicate albums for me the go to  ones are Here Come the Miracles (2001) and Static Transmission (2003)

I've gone for the later where he performs with the Miracle 3 - Dave Decastro (bass), Linda Pitmon (drums) and Chris Cacavas (keyboards)

Some great thrashy tracks such as Amphetamine but for today's purposes these are the ones which hit the spot.

Steve Wynn & the Miracle 3 -What Comes After

Steve Wynn & the Miracle 3 - California Style

Steve Earle & the Miracle 3 - Maybe Tomorrow

Friday 16 October 2020


2020 Charity Shop Purchase 44 - Black Rebel Motorcycle Club - B.R.M.C


Huntly is a pleasant little town in rural Aberbeenshire although I much prefer its previous name of Milton of Strathbogie.However, the town centre on the Tuesday we visited resembled a ghost town with hardly a soul about. Probably due in no small part to the huge Tesco on the main road bordering the town. It did however have a couple of charity shops.

Llke me I'm sure that many of you recognise the cover of B.R.M.C. the 2001 debut album of San Francisco band Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. I was familiar with the cover but not necessarily the music.

I would describe them as a cross between The Strokes and The Black Keys although I'm not necessarily sure whether in  agood way or a bad way. I seem to remember a fair bit of hype when this came out.Some of the songs , like the two below are not too bad. Heck, the second one even featured in a Vin Diesel film and Skins. The jury is still out as to whether it is a keeper or not. Another couple of listens are probably required.

It seems that they have released another further seven albums (all with black and white covers) but my curiosity is pretty much sated.

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club - Whatever Happened to my Rock'n'Roll (punk song)

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club - Spread Your Love

Thursday 15 October 2020

Wake Up!


2020 Charity Shop Purchase 43 - The Boo Radleys

I'd never bought any music in the Blysthswood Care Charity Shop in Newtonmore before just a rather fetching dark green retro corduroy shirt.
I managed to break my musical duck on the way to our first week's accommodation by purchasing Wake Up!  a 1995 album by The Boo Radleys on the Creation label. The band's name being of course taken from a character in Harper Lee's brilliant novel To Kill a Mockingbird.

Confession time I thought that this was their debut album whereas it is actually their  fourth. I would be hard pushed to name or indeed recognise any of the the 5 others they released between 1990 and 1998. At a push I might recognise it's 1993 predecessor Giant Steps. I have a CD single of the song Barney (... and Me) from that album which also has a cover of Fat Larry's Zoom ( from before Zoom was a household word).

I digress Wake Up! is a fairly pleasant indie pop album with some good tunes Not one that I'll play that often but definitely a keeper. Here are two of the three singles of the album.

Wednesday 14 October 2020



2020 Charity Shop Purchase 42 -  R.E.M. - Document

The final offering from my pre-holiday haul is Document by R.E.M

From 1997 and on the IRS label it was purchased together with Green it's 1988 successor on Warner Brothers and the first produced along with Scott Litt. I'm gradually filling in the IRS blanks which you rarely, if ever, stumble across in charity shops although I did see another copy of Green in Fort William

Messrs Stipe, Buck, Berry and Mills were on a roll around then and given the quality of the music were quite rightly heading towards world domination.

You will all be familiar with the singles The One I Love and It's the End of the World as we Know it (And I Feel Fine) expertly analysed by JC and the Robster  as parts 10 and 9 of The Singular Adventures of R.E.M.

The third single from the album Finest Worksong has probably not enjoyed the same success and longevity as it's two predecessors but for me it is the pick of the bunch.

The rest of the songs on the album are all of a consistantly high standard but I couldn't not feature a song called Lightnin' Hopkins

R.E.M. - Finest Worksong

R.E.M. - Lightnin' Hopkins

Tuesday 13 October 2020

Heaven Up Here


2020 Charity Shop Purchase 41 - Echo and the Bunnymen - Heaven Up Here

I've a few new ones to share with you from my holidays but first here is the first of the two remaining from my pre holiday Battlefield Road haul.

They were held back slightly as the are both second albums from the bands who featured before .Last time round (number 34) I featured Echo and the Bunnymen with Ocean Rain.This time round it is Heaven Up There their second album from 1981 on the Korova label and Swiss Adam's favourite.

Reaching number 10 in the UK album charts it was also a favourite of the critics winning the Best Dressed LP (whatever that is) and Best Album in the 1981 NME awards being described as darker and more passionate than Crocodiles.

Record Mirror goes even further saying thatt he album  offered an anatomy of melancholy, resplendid with the glamour of doom. Just the thing then for all the serious young men in raincoats - you know who you are!

I've opted for the two singles A Promise which reached number 49 and Over the Wall which didn't trouble the charts.

Echo & the Bunnymen -A Promise

Echo & the Bunnymen - Over the Wall

Monday 12 October 2020

River Deep or Mountain High 5


He's back - refreshed and raring to go.

It must be said that I didn't really miss the blog at all and it was good to have a break. A fair number of new charity shop purchases to inflict on you but first back to business.

I was already beginning to run out of enthusism for this series and it looks like most everybody else is in the same boat.

Whiskeytown's Drank Like a River beat their  Lo- Fi Tennessee Mountain Angel by a paltry three votes to two but only following  a flip of a coin from Spence.

So the score is now River 2 Mountain 1 .Unless there is a huge upsurge in interest I'm going to make it first to 5 the winner.

It's Glasgow versus Edinburgh this week. In the Weegie corner it is Spinning Coin with Metronome River and from Salt'n'Sauce city we have Motorcycle Boy with Big Rock Candy Mountain.

 Do I love you, my oh my

River Deep or Mountain High?

Spinning Coin - Metronome River

Motorcycle Boy - Big Rock Candy Mountain

Saturday 10 October 2020

50 Americana Albums You Should Hear Before You Die - Rabbit Fur Coat


Some of you may be wondering why indie darling and former Rilo Kiley front woman Jenny Lewis is featuring in an Americana series. Well wonder no more.

Throw in M Ward, Connor Oberst, Ben Gibbard (from Death Cab for Cutie) and the country gospel harmonies of The Watson Twins (Chandra and Leigh) and you have a bona fide Americana classic on your hands. Heck, they even throw in  a cover of the Travelin Wilbury's Handle with Care  for good measure

Released in 2006 on Rough Trade in came out prior to the final Rilo Kiley album Under the Blacklight from 2007 and is a considerably better record.

The Watson Twins released their debut EP Southern Manners simultaneously with Rabbit Fur Coat and have been releasing records of their own ever since.

I saw Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins at Glasgow University Uunion (GUU) and they made a pretty stunning entrance walking through the seated crow singing  the opening track Run Devil Run acapela

The title track has very much aof a gothic feel to it and Pitchfork alludes to the Shining-esque album cover above.

Jenny Lewis & the Watson Twins - Run Devil Run

Jenny Lewis & the Watson Twins - The Big Guns

Jenny Lewis & the Watson Twins - Rise Up With Fists!!

Jenny Lewis & the Watson Twins -Rabbit Fur Coat

Saturday 3 October 2020

50 Americana Albums You Should Hear Before You Die - The Gilded Palace of Sin


I hope you will forgive me of I indulge in a little cutting and pasting from a previous post  in respect of this weeks offering The Gilded Palace of Sin by The Flying Burrito Brothers as it is pretty much what I would have written today:

Released in 1969 it is one of the two landmark albums from this era featuring Gram Parsons (the other being The Byrds with Sweetheart of the Rodeo from the year before) which changed the face of country music.
Without them I seriously doubt whether I would ever have  ended up with the vast majority of  the 500 plus Americana albums that grace the shelves today.  Indeed  it is likely that many of the acts  would probably not  even have existed .
Featuring the classic line up of Gram Parsons, Chris Hillman, Chris Ethridge and Sneaky Pete Kleinow..
Let's face it even if the music was rubbish, which of course it isn't, you would buy it for the cover alone with the band sporting some magnificent Nudie suits

Not a commercial hit at the time it's influence has since been  universally acknowledged.

I could also have  maybe mentioned that whereas the first 10 tracks are absolutely essential I can live without the final one Hippy Boy.

Oh, and with the possible addition of Burrito Deluxe this is really the only thing you need from the varioua iterations of the band. Anything after Parsons and Hillman is not worth bothering about

I hope you've got your recruits and your green mohair suits and that  you've showed your I.D. at the door

The Flying Burritto Brothers - Sin City

The Flying Burrito Brothers - Juanita

The Flying Burrito Brothers - Hot Buritto No 1