Various Artists

Straight Outta Boone Country

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Bloodshot Records built their reputation on a series of compilations that introduced the concept of "insurgent country" to the indie rock audience, and Straight Outta Boone County is easily the label's best collection, both in concept and execution. The CD features 20 honky tonk classics that are given a modern makeover in tribute to WLW's Boone County Jamboree and the Midwestern Hayride, two long-running live country music radio shows broadcast out of Cincinnati from 1939 to the early '60s. The artists in the lineup were some of the best alternative country acts available in 1997, including flag-bearers for the genre like the Waco Brothers and Robbie Fulks. The result is a top-notch compilation with nary a dead spot, but a few highlights do arise. Whiskeytown offers up a haunting version of Moon Mullican's "Bottom of the Glass," transforming the jaunty drinking tune into a cautionary lament. The Cowslingers turn the Stanley Brothers' rogue anthem "If I Lose" into fuzz-busting cowpunk, while the Volebeats apply their laid-back touch to the salty shuffle of "Hamtramck Mama," originally recorded by fellow Detroiters the York Brothers. Merle Travis' populist screed "No Vacancy" is done justice by Holler, with frontman Mike Ireland soaring righteously above the barrelhouse country swing. The Lucky Stars, One Riot One Ranger, and Hazeldine also stand out, but every band on Straight Outta Boone County does a fine job of paying reverence to the past while updating the songs for the punk-informed, rock-jaded alt-country crowd.

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