Thursday, May 02, 2013

Is this really only the second British country record?

Mark Ellen reckons the album by My Darling Clementine, who are performing at our next Word In Your Ear gig on May 20th with David Ford, is only the second example of what you could call a British country record.

The first, he reckons, was Elvis Costello's Almost Blue. That was recorded in Nashville with Billy Sherrill. My Darling Clementine's was recorded in London with Nick Lowe's producer Neil Brockbank.

Of course he's wrong in all sorts of ways but you only say things like that to get a response. Without resorting to hair splitting you could mention Albert Lee, Meal Ticket, The Rockingbirds and any number of acts from what you might call the Eddie Grundy wing of country. But it's still not that many.

It's certainly not so many as there are British practitioners of other forms of American vernacular music. We've had hundreds of pretend Dixieland jazz bands, legions of supposedly Southside Chicago blues acts and rockabilly and soul revues by the score. But country acts, not so many.

It's not that there isn't affection for the music. Being the last redoubt of songs that mean something country is one of those strains that Brits return to when the latest hip thing turns out to be meretricious. As the likes of George Jones shuffle of this mortal coil people realise how good they were. And for all its slavish adherence to formula the Nashville pop industry still turns out some brilliant records, which are all the better for being passed over by smart opinion.

You should come along to the Old Queens Head on the 20th. They promise a George Jones tribute. Tickets here.


  1. And you could mention Houston Wells & the Marksmen, one of Joe Meek's less fashionable acts. Shutters and Boards was a minor hit in 1963 or thereabouts.

  2. Beatles For Sale is a British Country record

  3. No British country? That's probably because we already have our own local musical genre (folk) which performs the same social function.

  4. From the small Sutherland village of Golspie sprang the mighty 'Colorado' who supported the likes of Johnny Cash, Boxcar Willie and George Hamilton IV when they toured the UK.

  5. From the small Sutherland village of Golspie sprang the mighty 'Colorado', who supported the likes of Johnny Cash, Boxcar Willie and George Hamilton IV when they toured the UK

  6. On the stage of the Circus Tavern in Purfleet, Mark Ellen has reached the end of his PowerPoint presentation on the state of Country Music in the UK.

    "Oh my stars," cries a woman in the audience, in coarse estuary English.

    A peroxide blonde, dressed in a stetson, a heavily embroidered blouse, and a pair of faded Levis, swoons into the arms of her husband - a lorry driver from Grays in Essex, with hair modeled on the late Conway Twitty...

    One of the great homegrown country music albums that comes readily to mind is 'Stuck On Love' by The Arlenes: Like bright Spring sunshine glinting off the polished chrome of Hanks Williams' powder-blue Cadillac, striking the receiver dish of a satellite, broadcasting reruns of classic Grand Ole Opry performances, and then beaming down on a North London suburb.

  7. An album that often comes out when friends come 'round features Trevor Harrison* singing Nick Lowe's The Beast In Me. With Chris Difford twiddling the knobs it really does tick all your aforementioned boxes - Country, English, Nick Lowe, *Eddie Grundy; a future Word In Your Ear lineup and no mistake.

  8. Does this Count as country? I think it does, though he goes all round the blues spectrum too. Damien Paul, album is Almost True. Bloody good.

  9. This is country isn't it?

    Album is Almost True.Damien Paul. Bloody good.