Native North America Volume 1: "Aboriginal Folk, Rock, and Country 1966-85" (Light in the Attic, 2014)
This is a revelation. A collection of two decades of music made within the aboriginal scene across Canada and the northern United States, all of it extremely rare. I’ll write about the music in the next segment but the booklet deserves an overview of its own. It’s 60 pages and includes a brief biography of each artist represented, so that we got a mini history of this entire grassroots movement as we read the personal stories and musical histories of the acts. Also in the booklet are a wealth of band photos, and song lyrics.
As for the music, of the 34 tracks some of the songs are more interesting than good but all of them are at least interesting and some are of extraordinary quality. The most predominant style is a blend of outsider folk and country rock, but there’s a wide range of approaches including some soft rock, Nuggets-y garage, an odd type of surf sound, some tribal feels, and others. Lyrically there’s a lot of storytelling and a good amount of protest sentiment, as the artists tell the tales of and stand up for their people. The music is as cosmic as it is topical. As I listen along I’m put in mind of other artists ranging from Link Wray to Neil Young and Crazy Horse.
For me personally, getting introduced to this music is on a par with the experience of picking up my first Tropicalia compilation and starting to learn about the songs and people behind that movement. Part of me wishes the label would have contained the tracks to the very best selections, in which case we’d have one CD or a double-LP of consistently outstanding songs; but another other part knows that with so much of this music in existence and so much of it previously unknown by most of us, the compilation needed to be of this length.
Review made by Brian Greene/2014
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