VINYL HAYRIDE; COUNTRY MUSIC ALBUM COVERS 1947-89 by PAUL KINGSBURY

 |   |  1 min read

VINYL HAYRIDE; COUNTRY MUSIC ALBUM COVERS 1947-89 by PAUL KINGSBURY

The purest strain of American country music -- not the pop-schlock of Shania Twain or the credible singer-songwriters out of Texas -- bewilders most people. It can be cornball, sentimental, blindly patriotic, hypocritically conservative, and often just plain strange. It is also, to cite Nick Tosche's excellent studies of it, "the biggest music in America" and "the twisted roots of rock'n'roll".

For those reasons alone it's something we should pay attention to. And that's easy because country wears its art on its sleeve.

This large-format, soft-cover collection of colourful, kitschy, mawkish and downright odd album covers isn't deliberately selected for Tosche's reasons, it is simply a cross-section through the heart of country music from the days of Tex Ritter and square dances to the new country acts of the late 80s such as Lyle Lovett, Steve Earle (when he was thin and young) and kd lang.

satan   These covers are fascinating, tacky and sometimes unintentionally hilarious. Tex Williams' Smoke Smoke Smoke makes smoking look like a patriotic act, the Louvin Brothers stand in the inferno for Satan is Real, Carl Butler and Pearl pose in matching and very wrong jackets for Loving Arms, and Grandpa Jones really shouldn't have put on leiderhosen for Yodeling Hits.

   There are themes, among them truck drivin', drinkin' and cheatin' (sometimes all at the same time).

   It's unlikely you'll learn much from these colourful pages (other than don't let a country singer pick your wardrobe) but some do reflect universal truths. Moe Brandy looks suitably broken, ornery and vengeful as he sits in a bar holding a broken bottle for I Just Started Hatin' Cheatin' Songs Today.

silkBut what was the young Linda Ronstadt thinking when she posed in a pig sty with two fat porkers for Silk Purse?

Girl, that's just too literal, even by country's lowered standards.


Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   Writing articles index

CUBA; THE SIGHTS, SOUNDS, FLAVORS AND FACES by PIERRE HAUSHERR AND FRANCOIS MISSEN

CUBA; THE SIGHTS, SOUNDS, FLAVORS AND FACES by PIERRE HAUSHERR AND FRANCOIS MISSEN

With the geriatric Fidel Castro literally shuffling off the stage leaving it to his brother Raul and a cadre of elders, these look like the end days of the Cuba which has existed in proud but... > Read more

BLADE NZ; TRAVEL STORIES FROM THE ROAD by MATT EARLE

BLADE NZ; TRAVEL STORIES FROM THE ROAD by MATT EARLE

Well, someone had to be crazy enough to do it, to rollerblade the length of New Zealand. And that task fell to the self-appointed Matt Earle and his pal Josh who cracked onto this somewhat... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

CHINA POWER; ART NOW AFTER MAO, a documentary by PIA GETTY (DV1/Southbound DVD)

CHINA POWER; ART NOW AFTER MAO, a documentary by PIA GETTY (DV1/Southbound DVD)

In a recent documentary Drilling for Art, the spotlight was put on Dubai as a place with no art history (other than some minor folkloric things) and a city where 95 percent of people come from... > Read more

EPs by Yasmin Brown

EPs by Yasmin Brown

With so many CDs commanding and demanding attention Elsewhere will run this occasional column by the informed and opinionated Yasmin Brown. She will scoop up some of those many EP... > Read more