Thursday, January 18, 2018

The Knitters - The Modern Sounds of...

The Knitters were (are?) a side project of X, with John, Excene and DJ from that band, along with git-whiz Dave Alvin and stand-up bass-man Jonny Ray. Here they strip down their sound and go semi-acoustic as they cover and write old school country/folk/rockabilly tunes. This 2005 release is their sophomore effort, with their debut appearing 20 years previously in 1985, with this record  mining the same territory they did back then.

Here they open with a Link Wray rumble of chords for a few seconds in "Easy Goin' Sunday" before headin' to "Give Me Flowers While I'm Livin'", a goofy bit of folk/country highlighted by Alvin's electric baritone guitar solos. Doe takes lead vocals for his "Try Anymore", that has some fine acoustic guitar riffin' and X-like harmonies. X's "In This House That I Call Home" is given a re-working, with Alvin again lettin' loose on the baritone to great rockabilly-ish effect. Dave contributes the really fine, mid-tempo "Dry River", Excene's "Skin Deep Town" is a bit of silliness that I know that I've heard on something else, but I can't place it (it was on X's Live at the Whiskey album), and Albert Brumley's "Rank Stranger" is a sweet gospel ballad with more impressive guitar work and powerful call'n'answer vocals, making it one of the highlights of this record.

John and Dave's country-ish "The Call of the Wrecking Ball" was also done on X's Live At the Whiskey, Jimmy Driftwood's "Long Chain On" is another dramatic cover that they treat wonderfully, making it an additional fave from this record. They take Bill Anderson's country tune "I'll Go Down Swinging" and turn it into harmony-laden rockabilly, X's "Burning House of Love" is given the acoustic treatment, the traditional "Little Margaret" is a beautifully done, melodic, folk ballad, and then bring things to a close with a strange version of "Born to be Wild" that alternates from slow, acoustic country to fast rock and I'm not sure it really works, but it is an interesting experiment.

I am certainly a huge fan of X and dig a majority of the stuff that they have done, so it's only natural that this appeals to me, as well. Everyone's contributions are stellar (although I haven't really mentioned them, Jonny and DJ are a superb rhythm section) and the song choices, overall, are pretty damn great. Fun record!