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This Weekend I’ll Mostly be Listening to… The Dils/Rank and File/BlackBird/Cowboy Nation August 19, 2017

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

Punk and class war, alternative and possibly class war, country and… er… revolution? Here’s a group I’m very fond of. Actually it’s not one group, but rather a sort of continuation across various groups. In the late 1970s US punk group the Dils appeared – touting a sort of Communist, working class rhetoric, at least for a year or so. Led by brothers Chip and Tony Kinman they were pretty good, some nice punchy numbers including Class War (natch!) and Kill the Rich. Towards the end a slightly different sound crept in – that being something not entirely unrelated to country.

So perhaps no great surprise that when they next appeared a couple of years later as Rank and File they were now in a more cowpunk/proto-alt country mode. They released a number of albums but for me their standout is the first album, Sundown. Amanda Ruth is a great song. But all the songs are good to great.

Then in another shift they seemed to swerve to a drone rock, slightly electronic, style under the name BlackBird which was not dissimilar to Suicide or even the Jesus and Mary Chain (and one has to wonder were the JAMC taking notes of Rank and File in 1982 given how their music was so country inflected even as soon as their second album).

And then… in the 1990s, they reappear as Cowboy Nation, now a cowboy group plying some great simple stripped down tracks.

All this could seem like they were were simply traipsing after one style or another but actually listening to the music one can see the continuities rather than the ruptures. I think – at a push – I like Cowboy Nation the best (They’ve a fantastic song entitled Revolution, sadly not available online). There’s something very soothing about the combination of guitars and deep vocals. If there’s a faint sense that tongues are firmly in cheek, well who cares when it is done as well as this?

Class War – The Dils

I Hate the Rich – The Dils

Red Rockers – The Dils

Amanda Ruth – Rank and File

Rank and File – Rank and File

The Conductor Wore Black – Rank and File

Quicksand – Blackbird

What Goes On – Blackbird

Time to Go – Blackbird

Shenandoah – Cowboy Nation

Blood on the Saddle – Cowboy Nation

Cowboy Nation – Cowboy Nation


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