When Joe Strummer died, a piece of him stayed behind inside of Jon Langford. Langford, a Welsh singer-songwriter, is one of the rare examples of a drummer (as part of the seminal punk band The Mekons) who was able to transform into a guitar-playing bandleader. Like Strummer, he infused his raw, energetic, and unrehearsed punk sensibility with elements of country and folk, playing with bands like Waco Brothers and Three Johns (with John Hyatt) before forming the Skull Orchard band. There are few artists today whose albums I instantly take to as strongly as Langford, and his 2010 release, “Old Devils,” is no exception. Simple rock and roll/punk/country tunes about love, loss and pain played with a terrific band (fellow Waco Brothers Alan Doughty and Joe Camarillo on bass and drums respectively and the Zincs/Horse’s Ha dapper, finger-picking Englishman Jim Elkington on guitar).
I’ve listened to this album straight through half a dozen times already. If this isn’t one of the best albums of the year, then we’re in for a great second half of 2010.
Here’s a song from the new one:
Getting Used to Uselessness
BONUS JON LANGFORD LIVE, A to Z!
I love this dude so much, I want to pay a full tribute . . . All are direct links, so no need for a zip file. (And I know that much of the Mekons stuff is post-Langford, but I still dig it, and his fingerprints are all over that band.)
B is for another cover: Big River-The Mekons.
C is for children’s music. Langford isn’t always all about the grown ups. You can find a great kids show here, featuring all kinds of classics like “I Know An Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly” and “Big Rock Candy Mountain.”
D and E are forDeath of the European-John Langford (acoustic).
F is for Fantastic Voyage-The Mekons
G is for Getting Used to Uselessness, from the new album!
H is for Kelly Hogan’s appearance with Jon on Time Changes Everything.
I is for I Fought the Law (Bobby Fuller Four cover)-Waco Brothers. Millions of people cover this song, and I don’t think I’ve ever heard a bad version. Makes me wonder if I could do it…..
J is for Johnny Cash’s Long Black Veil-Jon Langford.
K and L are for Key Largo-Jon Langford. No, it’s not a cover of that schmaltzy guilty pleasure by Bertie Higgins.
M is for Mekons, and N is for the Mekons anthem Never Been in a Riot.
P is for Pill Sailor-Jon Langford. I love the image of a pill sailor.
R is for Reno, where Johnny shot a man, just to watch him die, in the classic Folsom Prison Blues-Jon Langford.
V is for that comely vixen in the Tom Jones cover Delilah-Jon Langford (acoustic).
W is for the classic country cover What a Good Year for the Roses-Mekons. I know Elvis Costello had the balls to cover this song first. Elvis’ “Almost Blue” record is one I played the crap out of.
Y is for You Ain’t Going Nowhere, a song made famous by The Byrds.
Z is for Big Zombie-Mekons.
If you’re not a fan of Jon’s after downloading these tunes, you’re hopeless.