Artist: The Rave-Ups
Album: Town & Country
Release Date: 07/08/2016
This is the west coast version of Jason & the Scorchers, both coming along around the same time in the mid-eighties. The Rave-Ups were a bunch of young kids channeling X and other punk elements into country and folk. Theirs is almost a make-believe story. The members held day jobs in the mail room at A&M Records, gaining access to the studio at night and during lunch breaks. When they felt that they had enough material to issue a record, they brought in producer Stephen Barncard (Grateful Dead’s American Beauty) and the acclaimed pedal steel player from the Flying Burrito Brothers, Sneaky Pete Kleinow. So, Town & Country released in 1985 on the Fun Stuff label. The album earned enough attention to get the band featured in the classic film, Pretty in Pink, but shortly afterwards the album went out of print.
Omnivore is re-issuing the album’s ten original tracks and a bountiful 11 bonus cuts, which include live tracks and material produced by Steve Berlin (Los Lobos) and Mark Linnet. Mastering and restoration is marvelous and was overseen by Grammy winner, Gavin Lurssen. The liner notes are richly detailed, written mostly by the band’s leader, Jimmy Podrasky. You probably won’t recognize too many of the songs except their single “Positively Lost Me” and some punked-up interpretations of Dylan’s “You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere,” the traditional folk song, “If I Had a Hammer” and Merle Travis’ “Nine Pound Hammer.”
Podrasky and his mates had an indomitable, resilient approach to being relegated to “mop-up” studio time and eventually prevailed. Here is Podrasky’s final statement in the liners: “Music has an uncanny ability to thwart time and space. It informs a moment. It indexes lives. It creates strange bedfellows. It outlasts people- even the people who helped make the music. Music resonates more than any other art form– that is its unique power. It remains with us long after the last note has faded. Town & Country was the beginning of a lifelong journey for me – the start of a trip that still hasn’t ended. I’m proud and honored to have been a part of something that has withstood the test of time.”
The Rave-Ups are aptly named – the music has an enticing edginess, mixing rock, country and punk. It sounds great even three decades later.