John Doe and the Sadies: Country Club

JohnDoeSadies_CountryClubTerrific set of classic country covers from X/Knitters vocalist

John Doe’s penchant for country and roots has never been a secret. Though originally pegged as a punk rock singer with X, the acoustic spin-off Knitters and his solo work demonstrated he could sing effectively in quieter settings. Paired here with the Sadies, he capitulates fully to the classic country music that’s so clearly influenced him. Best of all, he sings in a relaxed style that unlocks new levels of tone and tempo. The Sadies, for their part, are as tight as the Nashville A-listers who originally cut these tunes behind Waylon Jennings, Roger Miller, Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, Porter Wagoner, Kris Kristofferson, Merle Haggard, Tammy Wynette and Bobby Bare. But as easily as they pick the original fiddle-and-steel instrumental “Ping Mountain Rag” and Western-tinged guitar hoedown “The Sudbury Nickel,” they also render “The Night Life” with enough atmosphere to suggest the debauchery of “House of the Rising Sun” and add a spacey edge to “’Till I Get it Right.”

Doe proves himself not just a compelling singer, but an excellent stylist. He’s obviously a fan (and in some cases a student) of the originals, but he’s not slavishly devotional. He picks up on Carl Mann’s upbeat rockabilly treatment of “Take These Chains From My Heart” (which itself was quite distinct from Hank Williams’ and Ray Charles’ sorrowful takes), but converts the driving original into a bouncier country beat. His take on “(Now and Then) There’s a Fool Such as I” follows Hank Snow’s slow original (or even more closely, Jim Reeves’ cover) rather than Elvis’ upbeat take. This is everything that Doe’s fans have waited for over the years: a great set of songs filtered through effortless vocal performances and backed by the encyclopedic and tasteful chops of the Sadies. Like all great covers albums, this one will remind you of the original versions’ greatness without sending you scrambling to hear them. [©2009 hyperbolium dot com]

John Doe and the Sadies’ MySpace Page

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