Sunday, January 20, 2008

Those Jangly Eighties, Vol 5: Jason & The Scorchers and The Beat Farmers

[For the background on this series, see here.]

Today’s featured style is cowpunk.

Pour yourself a cup of Old Grand-Dad (since 1882) and get ready for A COWPUNK SPECATCULAR!

In the 1980s, "alt-country" music used to be called “cowpunk.” It was a little harder than today's "No Depression" sound, which explains the “punk” part of the name, but nobody can explain where "cows" came in. The king of cowpunk bands was the legendary Jason & The Scorchers. If you like twangy music, you need to get to know this band. They took the hardest elements of country and rock and ran with them. Read bios here and here.

Let's start our Jason & the Scorchers tour with the excellent Fervor EP from 1983.

The first track is one of the all-time best Bob Dylan covers (perhaps eclipsed only by The Byrds' Mr. Tambourine Man and Jimi Hendrix's All Along The Watchtower, but I may be forgetting a few):

Jason & The Scorchers – Absolutely Sweet Marie

In 1985, the band issued its magnum opus (and one of my top 25 albums of all time) Lost And Found. Check out these tracks:

Jason & The Scorchers – Shop It Around

Jason & The Scorchers – Broken Whiskey Glass

Jason & The Scorchers – Blanket Of Sorrow

Now listen to what they could do with an old country song:

ORIGINAL: Eddy Arnold– I Really Don’t Want To Know (buy album).

COVER: Jason & The Scorchers – I Really Don't Want To Know

Unfortunately, all of this stuff appears to be out of print, so you'll have to get in on e-bay. Just for fun, here's an absolutely killer Carl Perkins cover:

Jason & The Scorchers – Gone, Gone, Gone

Since this is turning into a covers post, it's time to mention my second favorite cowpunk band, The Beat Farmers. Read bios here and here.

My favorite Beat Farmers album is their debut, Tales From The New West, in part because of its excellent, countrified covers:

Beat Farmers – There She Goes Again (Velvet Underground Cover).

Beat Farmers – Reason To Believe (Bruce Springsteen Cover).

Tales of the New West was the Beat Farmers' twangiest record. Unfortunately it's out of print.

Flossie, the punk cow...


I should have put this up in the post before. Here's the great You Tube clip linked in the comments:


Gilded Palace of Sin (Brighton) said...

Props for covering the Scorchers! Neat tie-in with your earlier post on Guadalcanal Diary: Jason covers their Trail of Tears on his solo album Pocketful of Soul.

They can still tear up a stage (even on a TV show): watch this...
Brings tears to my eyes every time I watch it!

Looking forward to the next instalment... Dream Syndicate, maybe? :-)

Paul said...

I think I will be heading down to Austin, Texas for the next installment, for "a beer" with Javier and the rest of the "Believers."

I missed the boat a bit on Dream Syndicate. The 1980's, for me, began in 1984, which is when I really got into the then-current scene. DS made their biggest splash a few years earlier. Timing is everything. I'm sure I'll get a track of theirs onto the final jangly-80's post (which promises to be a real blow-out folks).

Dan said...

Still loving these posts, Paul. With your inspiration I worked in a little Guadalcanal Diary into the last show. The Scorchers have been a fixture already, but haven't heard that Carl Perkins cover in ages. And the Beat Farmers to boot! I came to them during Van Go, so the Tales of the New West stuff hits the spot.

Keep up the good work.

Paul said...


I noticed you had Watusi Rodeo on there. Good stuff! I recently got Tales From The New West as a download from Amazon. (I sold my vinyl copy back in the 90s when I was having cash flow problems). Somebody should release the actual CD. It's great stuff.

redsock said...

That YouTube clip is fantastic!!!! Good god these guys could (can) rock!!!!

I miss Jeff's glam look on bass though.