Guest Blog: Ginger’s Secret History Of Rock’n’Roll (Pt.1)
In the first of a new series, The Wildhearts’ mainman recommends overlooked classic albums.
Jason and the Scorchers
‘Lost And Found’
EMI America, 1985
Nashville, early 80s, and Country music has reached a nadir of mainstream ambivalence that ol’ Hank and Mr. Cash would have sneered at from spitting distance. Pop had successfully shaved the edges from all that it had infected, Country being no exception, and soon Punk would follow on this willfully commercial theme with lip gloss and hair gel replacing spit n’ spikes. Joe sang about ‘turning rebellion into money’ and never was there a time where this seemed to ring with more morbid truth.
Illinois native Jason Ringenberg would be the man to change the way that Country music would be heard to this present day, influencing the ‘alt country’ movement in 1990′s and establishing a pounding drive and punk spirit to a genre of music that had long since misplaced any concept of danger.
Forming in 1981 as Jason And The Nashville Scorchers, and releasing an EP, ‘Reckless Country Soul’ in 1982 on the independent Praxis label, JATS were picked up by EMI, delivering mini-album ‘Fervor’ in 1983, both releases hinting at a power that would be harnessed like a wild bronco for 1985′s ‘Lost And Found’.
Produced by Fervor’s Terry Manning, this whip cracking, foot stomping hootenanny opens up with the frantic ‘Last Time Around’ before hurtling into one of rock n roll’s top 5 most thrilling moments, the mean-spirited relentlessness of ‘White Lies’. Written by drummer Perry Baggs, this song, some 20 odd years later still has the ability to simultaneously make love to and bugger the listener senseless.
With the ferocious guitar work of Warner E. Hodges battling for supremacy next to Jason’s howling vocal performances there are few finer examples in the annals of recorded music of how the electricity of personality makes for such thrilling sonic adventure. The sheer pummeling force of the band’s delivery on this track alone holds the ability to lure the listener into some dank, beer-drenched barn dance where one can at once feel the crowd and smell the cowshit.
It’s this same dynamic approach that fuels the Scorchers vicious take of Hank Williams ‘Lost Highway‘, on side two, trading in the dusty romance of the original for a wild, pedal-to-the-floor abandon, just one of the trademarks of this genre blasting group.
While accusations could be, unfairly, leveled at ‘Lost And Found’ for being a mixed bag of southern comforts, the other styles represented here merely reflect Jason And The Scorchers remaining trademarks, namely a classic sense of storytelling balladry, as in the wistful ‘Still Tied’, and their unflinching mastery of pop, like the truly awesome shit-kicker ‘Shop It Around’. Hell, sometimes they just throw all the ingredients into one spicy gumbo soup and end up with the jaw dropping brilliance that is ‘Broken Whiskey Glass’, where the sweetest melody breaks into the fucking Batman riff only to careen off the beaten track in a liquor fuelled breakneck boogie. Holy damn!
The pace on this album is so willfully disjointed that it simply demands constant replay in order to savour a time when such a radical approach to traditional music could actually be seen as outrageous. Yeah, those days may be long gone but it’s still vitally important to remember the pioneers and the unsung heroes who delivered the present day to your stereo.
Jason and the Scorchers not only breathed fiery life into the wizened lungs of a dying genre, they installed a sense of hope and belief in every young person within contagious distance of this punk spirit and country stomp hybrid.
Alongside every well earned accolade placed at the legacy of Ramones influence and spoken with each rightly afforded round of lip service paid to Willie Nelson and Steve Earle’s rejection of NashVegas tradition, Jason And The Scorchers name should be held in equally high regard as an essential section in the evolution of rock n roll.
They made it cool to be you. Yee, and indeed Haw.
Come back next Friday for the next entry in Ginger’s Secret History of Rock’n’Roll.