Monday, July 25, 2011

Music On Monday: Girls of the Golden West

Dolly and Millie Good were sisters from a farm in Illinois, but they reinvented themselves as cowgirls from Muleshoe Texas and became the Girls of the Golden West in the early 1930s -- naming themselves after the Puccini opera. Very popular through the 30s and into the 40s, they cut a ton of sides for 5 different labels, yet no-one seems to have collected much of their output in modern times. Perhaps that's because their stuff is pretty mellow - it's just the two of them and a single guitar, so even for cowboy music of the time it's a bit stripped down. Plus they sing ballads. But every so often they get a bit goofy with songs like "Cross Eyed Beau":

They also sing about wanting to be real cowgirls (rather than cowboy's sweethearts):

And while you can't find them on too many compilations, you can find a small collection of tracks at the internet archive, ready to download! To read more about the Good sisters (and to see a full track listing), go here.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Music On Monday: The Gun Club

Fire of Love

You'll find The Gun Club on the 80s cowpunk lists, but I think they shade a bit more country than a lot of the other (more western) bands they were associated with -- in fact, some people apparently consider them the first alt-country band. (Not that I think any band is the "first" of anything, really, but okay. They're also called "punk blues" and "tribal psychobilly blues" and "early roots rock" so, you know, whatever.)

Their history and line-up is pretty convoluted; founder and singer Jeffrey Lee Pierce was about the only constant as various musicians (including Kid Congo Powers of the Cramps, Patricia Morrison of Sisters of Mercy and Debbie Harry on backup vocals) and celebrity producers (Chris Stein of Blondie, Robin Guthrie of the Cocteau Twins) came and went. The band formed in 1980 (when Blondie fan club chapter president Pierce met Ramones fan club chapter president Powers!) and continued in one form or another until Pierce's death in 1996. (Read the whole saga here.)

While they are pretty consistently interesting all the way through their run, I have a personal fondness for the earliest recordings. Here's a track off the first album, Fire of Love -- "Ghost on the Highway":

And from Miami, "Mother of Earth":

That is just scratching the surface - you could probably cruise YouTube and listen to them for a week! And if you still have some free time left, there's a great set of interviews with Kid Congo Powers online here (especially if you're a Cramps fan). Enjoy!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Music On Monday: Dick Stratton & the Nite Owls

Nashville, Vol. 1: Boogie Woogie Tennessee
Here's a song I can't tell you anything about, really. But we got it on a comp and fell for it hard -- it's Dick Stratton and the Nite Owls doing "Pistol Boogie", and is my favorite version of that song. It was put out by Tennnessee Records, a country/western indie label in Nashville that existed from 1950-1952. I would say it falls into that area where western swing was sliding through bop and boogie into rockabilly. I cannot find out a thing about Dick Stratton, although he is described as a "prolific record cutter in Nashville", but The Nite Owls were apparently Tennessee Records' house band and are a cover name for whatever Nashville area musicians were in the studio that session. They recorded several tracks with Dick Stratton and others (several of which are on the comp above, but not "Pistol Boogie", unfortunately!). Enjoy:

Monday, July 4, 2011

Music On Monday: Happy 4th!

Not patriotic or really even all that upbeat, but still....Dave Alvin's take on the 4th:

X recorded this song as well while he was their guitarist, and I realize that's the much better known version. But I really like this one as well, and I love this video for capturing the 4th in such a realistic way.

Also, if you're cooking out today, it's too late to make these for this year, but next year how about trying cowboy beans! (Find an alternate, much easier recipe here) Happy 4th of July!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Singing Cowboys on TCM!

Almost forgot to mention, starting tonight and running throughout the month of July, TCM will be showing a tribute to singing cowboys. Almost makes me wish I had cable! (Especially to see a decent print of a Herb Jeffries film.) Presumably the usual extra sides from TCM will be present as well, but no idea what. If you've got cable, check it out!
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