Various Artists: We Are Only Riders (Shock)

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Nick Cave/Deborah Harry: Free to Walk
Various Artists: We Are Only Riders (Shock)

The recent reissue of Gun Club albums (Miami, Fire of Love and Death Party), Jack White's championing of their frontman Jeffrey Lee Pierce (who died in 1996), and the presence of kindred dark soul Nick Cave here should further draw attention to the profile of Pierce, a man possessed of an angry, urgent yet poetic and often melancholy streak.

Pierce's writing is much admired by all the right people. This album of artists covering songs from a recently discovered cassette of a few unreleased songs includes Cave, Mark Lanegan, the Ravonettes, Deborah Harry, blues-rock guitarist Dave Alvin, Lydia Lunch and various Black Seeds. And almost everyone seems to make the songs over in their own image -- which also owes a debt to Cave/Black Seeds -- this confirms Pierce's particular lyrical gifts.

Pierce worked that moody area between a brooding, bluesy, imagined Mississippi Delta and a bottle of bourbon, a place where promises are seldom kept and hope can come from death and rage, strange country music and the gloomy end of the Doors.

David Eugene Edwards' pitches Ramblin' Mind somewhere between Springsteen's Nebraska and Nick Cave (who also covers it); Lanegan and Isobel Campbell's version of Free to Walk (which owes a lyrical debt to early Bob Dylan) comes with lap steel and mandolin. The Ravonettes deliver a Mazzy Star/Jesus and Mary Chain soundscape on the same song, and the Cave/Deborah Harry version is a delicate country ballad. 

So if Jeffrey Pierce/Gun Club are new to you, here's a useful and frequently impressive testament, even if you do get two or three versions of the same song in places. 

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Chris Familton - Apr 21, 2010

I'm loving this tribute to Pierce - particularly Lanegan's take on Constant Waiting. I was surprised how well Debbie Harry's voice suits swampy americana.
Great to see David Eugene Edwards getting more exposure. His work with Woven Hand and 16 Horsepower is fantastic.

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