Various Artists – Rough Trade Shops: Country 1

Smart, educational survey of two decades of alt.country

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A knowledgeable and imaginative two-CD set, as you’d expect from the Rough Trade Shops staff, whose compilations (especially Rock’n’Roll) have been so satisfying in the past couple of years. Country 1 (mercifully) disproves the idea that Uncle Tupelo somehow invented alt.country by featuring fractious ’80s border-dwellers like Gun Club, The Violent Femmes and The Mekons. Nice, too, to see some relatively unheralded talents?Omaha’s baroque Lullaby For The Working Class, the hair-raising Geraldine Fibbers?alongside usual suspects like Steve Earle, Whiskeytown and Howe Gelb’s Tucson cabal.

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