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The Slash Years

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Any aficionado of today’s alt-country scene needs to be acquainted with Rank and File. This pioneering cowpunk combo was launched by brothers Chip and Tony Kinman, who applied the punk aesthetic to the rugged country embodied by the likes of Lefty Frizzell and Johnny Cash. Rank and File’s innovative tenure with Slash Records is captured on this compilation. The tunes taken from their 1982 debut Sundown match the Kinman’s well-melded harmonies with bracing guitar riffs and sturdy rhythms. Cuts like “The Conductor Wears Black” and the title tune swagger with Western attitude, while “Amanda Ruth” recalls the upbeat side of the Everly Brothers (who, in fact, later covered the song). A populist outlook informs “Coyote” (a tale of an illegal border-crossing) and “Rank And File” (a working man’s anthem). The band’s 1984 follow-up Long Gone Dead wasn’t as consistently strong with the loss of guitarist Alejandro Escovedo contributjng to its lack of focus. Still, the album boasted some fine tracks, including “John Brown” (featuring Tony’s ominous lead vocal), the jangly “Sound Of The Rain” and the sensitive “Timeless Love.” A decade ahead of their time, Rank and File get the retrospective they deserve on The Slash Years.

Customer Reviews

The Return Of Cow Punk!

This Slash re-release of the first two Rank & File releases, "Sundown" and "Long Gone Dead" brings back the original cow punk sound that paved the way for later alternative country acts such as Jason and the Scorchers, the Beat Farmers, True Believers and the Long Ryders of mid to late 80's and our current alt country acts Son Volt and Wilco. Out of the ashes of hardcore punk band the Dils, the brothers Chip and Tony Kinman and future guitar virtuoso Alejandra Escovedo created a dual guitar sound in Gram Parsons meets Merle Haggard meets the Byrds persona. Check out the classic tracks "Coyote" and "The Conductor Wore Black"!

one half of a good thing

Sundown was a truly excellent album. Long Gone Dead is jaw-droppingly bad. Specifically, the first 9 songs are brilliant. The guitar is incredible and the writing, especially the songs that Tony sings. Then Long Gone Dead begins and the tracks go downhill quickly. The writing becomes simplistic and there begins a mix of 50s rock, slow songs, and one where they sound like REO Speedwagon, egads! I've never known a group whose second album's quality decreases so much from the first. It's worth it for the first nine songs.

Cowpunk Rules!!!

Not to be taken for granted, this genre is where those 'long lost' country artists have been revisited by punk bands. Good ol' country with that unmistakeable punk beat. The 'Urban Cowbay" era would not have existed as long if not for Rank And File. More mainstream play from these guys would be great! An 'underground favorite' for sure!! A must have for your eclectic collection!!!


Formed: 1981

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '80s

Formed by brothers Chip and Tony Kinman after they split up their hardcore punk band the Dils (who recorded the great L.A. punk single "Class War"), Rank and File were, at times, a dazzling roots rock post-punk band that stumbled early in its career, only to flame out much too quickly and finally collapse with an embarrassing thud. Their debut record, Sundown, was a gem of tuneful, Byrds-ian pop, with a healthy dollop of Gram Parsons and Merle Haggard to boot. The Kinmans' singing was distinctive;...
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The Slash Years, Rank And File
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