Ever since the emergence of alt-country in the 1990s, the idea of punk-weaned rock musicians playing country music is often a pretty ho-hum proposition. Yet, back in the 1980s, it was actually a bold and novel concept that intrigued only a select few (mostly Los Angeles) bands such as the Long Ryders, Green on Red, Jason & the Scorchers, Lone Justice, and of course, X and the Blasters. In 1984 the Blasters' Dave Alvin joined forces with X's John Doe, Exene Cervenka, and D.J. Bonebrake to form the Knitters, a band who shed its rock skin completely and opted for pared-down, low-key arrangements that stayed true to the classic country sound. This one-time-only record, a blend of covers, new songs, and X remakes, has charisma and charm thanks to its relaxed feel, warm setting, and absence of any pretension. That Alvin's guitar work is tasteful may not be a surprise, but Doe and Cervenka also offer lovely vocals throughout. --Marc Greilsamer
Similarly Requested CDs
Now THAT'S what I call Country!!!
Mr. Richard K. Weems | Fair Lawn, NJ USA | 07/26/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Very few people believe that I am a fan of country music because I'm rarely ever found listening to it. That's mainly because I find so much country music nowadays unimaginative, redundant and just plain boring. One paradigm I have long held onto is that great country music (just like great blues music) sounds like something you could imagine playing yourself on a back porch.
There are probably music purists who could pigeonhole my tastes into one aspect of country music (bluegrass or hillbilly, say), but I contend that my tastes are simply for Country Music.
With all of that said, it seems a shame to say that one of my all-time favorite country albums comes from a conglomeration of members from bands often categorized and punk and rockabilly. X and The Blasters are also bands I am quite fond of, so when I found out that members of both joined together to do some old country-blues tunes and even revise a little X, I was all over that record like white on rice.
This is fun music. Too much country nowadays just isn't fun, or if it pretends to be fun, it does so with a sour pretention of acting like everyone should act this way, but The Knitters nailed an album here that has such a come-along, sing-along feel, that I feel shame that the CMAs haven't nailed a copy of this album to the procemium of every awards show as a reminder of where the REAL heart of country music lay.
This is a great collection of songs. Songs about heartache or jail sung in a way that sounds genuine, not pretend. Like true country music, or the blues, songs of despair sit next to songs of love and joy. These are the emotions of life, told through charming and direct performances. Some of my favorites here are the title track (roadkill as a metaphor for life), Walkin' Cane, and if you aren't slapping your knee during Call of the Wreckin' Ball, you just don't have a pulse.
An added note: whenever I play The Kniters' version of "Rock Island Line," my 8 year-old can't help but just dance around the kitchen table. That's my hillbilly boy!