Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The Ten Best (alt) Country Albums

Now here is a better Christmas wish list. A who's who of alt country. This was published yesterday in The Independent newspaper and I have to say, I couldn't have come up with a better list myself. Although it would be nice to see Lucinda Williams there, or T-Bone Burnett, but he is represented by the O Brother soundtrack. Lets do a countdown shall we:

10 Dillard & Clark, The Fantastic Expedition of Dillard & amp; Clark (1968) £13.99

Here, Gene Clark of The Byrds joined banjo virtuoso Doug Dillard to give a bluegrass edge to some of the finest songs Clark would ever conjure.

9 The Byrds, Sweetheart of the Rodeo (1968) £7.99

In protest at the ubiquity of psychedelia, The Byrds went country. Sweetheart of the Rodeo combined counter-culture with cowboys and wrote the book on country-rock.

8 Gram Parsons GP/Grievous Angel (1973/4) £9.99

Often imitated but never bettered, Parsons' two solo albums have been packaged together since 1990. For less than £10 you get two records' worth of the sweetest sound known to man.

7 Emmylou Harris, Pieces of the Sky (1975) £9.99

Harris's major-label debut still stands as the pinnacle of an illustrious career. Although she borrowed her mentor Gram Parson's band, this shows that she could stand on her own two feet.

6 Various, O Brother, Where Art Thou (2000) £9.99

Via this soundtrack to the Coen brothers' film, Alison Krauss, Gillian Welch et al introduced bluegrass music to casual record-buyers who thought they knew better.

5 The Jayhawks, Hollywood Town Hall (1992) £9.99

This, the major-label debut of Minnesota's Jayhawks, was produced by Rick Rubin. It's anyone's guess as to why they haven't become this century's answer to The Eagles.

4 Ryan Adams, Heartbreaker (2000) £7.99

The post-punk Parsons' first solo album proved that he could create country classics for fun. Good enough to buy Adams credit for an entire future of erratic albums.

3 Gillian Welch, Time (The Revelator) (2001) £12.99

Welch gives a modern-day edge to songs that could be Depression-era originals. The success of the O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack owes much to her anachronistic approach.

2 Loretta Lynn, Van Lear Rose (2004) £11.99

Born into poverty and a mother of four by 18, Lynn brought her fair share of country credentials to this collaboration with Jack White of The White Stripes. Respectful, but raw and soulful.

1 Uncle Tupelo, No Depression (1990) £9.99

Both Jay Farrar and Jeff Tweedy have made better records since (Farrar with Son Volt and Tweedy with Wilco), but No Depression gave birth to the " alt.country" movement.

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