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C O V E R

R E V I E W

Various Artists

Explaining the Knitters could turn into a pretty complex piece of rock-n-roll genealogy, but I'm lazy, so I'll keep it simple. X is/was one of the coolest cowpunk bands ever, and you could easily make the case that they invented the whole alt-country genre way back in late 1970s LA. In the mid-1980s, while X was blipping in and out of existence, three members of X -- John Doe, Exene Cervenka, and D.J. Bonebrake -- joined Dave Alvin from The Blasters and bassist Johnny Ray Bartel to form a little side project called The Knitters. The idea was to pay tribute to some of the music (the Carter Family, Merle Haggard) that members of the band had grown up with and were influenced by. Well, it turns out that the little side project itself wound up having quite an influence on a new generation of artists, and now everyone's favorite countrypunk record label has decided to honor the Knitters with a tribute album.

And what a fine album it is! With 13 tracks from bands like Trailer Bride, Whiskey Town, Old 97's and The Blacks, you really couldn't ask for a nicer introduction to the alt-country scene that's been quietly making inroads into the popular music world for the last several years. Even The Knitters themselves contribute a track, which makes it easy to hear why so many bands have been influenced by their sound. This isn't the big-haired cheeze country you're likely to hear on your local country music station (think Garth Brooks... I mean "Chris Gaines"), and it's also not a bunch of snotty punks making fun of songs about pickup trucks and old dogs. These folks are sincere, and even when they're picking a banjo or singing about getting their baby out of jail, they really mean it, and they're doing it for real, not just as a goof. Fans of The Knitters will want this one for sure, and even if you've never heard of these bands and you think you hate country music, this CD just might change your mind.

Various Artists
Poor Little Knitter on the Road
Bloodshot
CD

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Review by irving bellemead

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