Album #553 – Fear and Whiskey
Ahhh….finally!!! A genre I know EXTREMELY well: alt-country. The Mekons are a British band who have their beginnings in the punk scene of the late 70’s. At some point in the mid 80’s, a bunch of these bands (mostly in the U.S.) decided to create a more country sound. The Mekons were the only British punk band to really follow suit. It was a result of Tom Greenhalgh listening to more and more country music. Many call Fear and Whiskey the first alt-country album. I disagree as there were many American artists (Jason and the Scorchers, Rank and File, X, The Long Ryders, Steve Earle and the Dukes) who were also doing this type of sound at the same time. The Mekons however had a rougher edge and were a little closer to punk than country. This results in Fear and Whiskey not only sounding fresh but also ahead of its time. A loosely based concept album about wartime in a small town, Fear and Whiskey captures the storytelling element of country music at its basic core. That combined with the energy of punk created something new and exciting. Nearly 30 years later, alt-country and Americana are still exciting and fresh. Looks like the Mekons were on to something.
Highlights include: Chivalry, Trouble Down South, Hard to be Human Again, Darkness and Doubt, Last Dance and an excellent cover of Leon Payne’s Lost Highway.
Overall, I give Fear and Whiskey, 5 out of 5.
Next: Suzanne Vega’s self-titled debut album