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Fear and Whiskey

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Fear and Whiskey album cover
Trouble Down South
Hard to Be Human Again
Darkness and Doubt
Psycho Cupid (Danceband on the Edge of Time)
Abernant 1984/1985
Last Dance
Lost Highway
Album Information

Total Tracks: 10   Total Length: 35:13

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Wondering Sound

Review 0

An early punk band returns — and helps invent alt-country.
Label: Quarterstick Records / Touch And Go

Although the likes of Greil Marcus and Lester Bangs loved their early albums, the Mekons 'most widely admired work eight years after they convened in punk-era Leeds was still the 1978 single "Where Were You?" It wasn't until 1985's Fear and Whiskey, self-released on their U.K.-only Sin label back when imports were hard to find, that their legend launched worldwide. Susie Honeyman's fiddle was enough to slot the album as what was then called… read more »

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This is the one to get...


...if you want to check out the Mekons. The title song is their best ever.

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Straight, no chaser


This is the purest and best distillation of the post-punk Mekons. Raw, exciting music that I wish would remain uncategorized. This isn't alt-country and it isn't roots rock. "Hard To Be Human Again" should convince anyone who loves unprocessed guitars that this is a great band, and this is their best work.

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It just plain evokes the feeling of beauty from inside me, theres not much else i would look for in a cd

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This isnt Alt-Country (and it isnt even good)


I have heard a lot about the Mekons but it couldnt be based on this album. This is major blowage! Self-indulhent crap passed off as arty. "Lost Highway" is so freakin bad it's laughable.Why would anyone want to listen to this? Drek! Krell! Ass-wipage from England.

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Not alt-country


As a fan of country music, alt-country and all that comes even close, this record, which is interesting, is closer to 70's English music than alt-country. Don't download it because it suppose to be an early alt-country record, it isn't. Whoever says so is smoking some wicked stuff.

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Sloppy, dissolute, wonderful


I recommend downloading along with the Kinks "Muswell Hillbillies." Best, most original British appropriations of American country/honky tonk that I know of. A truly great, complete album.

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It's Perfect.


Among the best records of the decade. Buy immediately.

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supposedly one of the "best albums of all time"


I read eview by both pitchfork (bitchdork) and allmusic that mentioned this phrase in their reviews. Get it, I think its great.

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A great album, pure and simple


I'm not an alt-country expert, so I can't comment on "Fear and Whiskey" in relation to what came afterward; however I do think that this is a great album in the way it put the genre conventions of country music in the service of a punk aesthetic. I especially love the way that the Mekons use Marxist thought as a "fundamentalism" underlying the songs and providing their emotional core, just as religious fundamentalism did for classic country music: We live in a fallen world (money like the serpent has entered the world and corrupted it), we are all sinners (complicit in what the world has become), grace is possible but uncertain (in our darkest hours true community seems remote from us), we drink to forget our fate (but also to try to reach out to those who share it). I don't happen to believe in either of these fundamentalisms, but I can't deny that they've produced some great works of art. This is one of them.

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They Say All Music Guide

Released in 1985, Fear and Whiskey is credited as the album that began the alt-country marketing category. True or not, it shouldn’t be held against one of the greatest records ever. The Mekons were one of the most loved and hated bands on the late-’70s/early-’80s punk scenes in England. In 1984 they began touring with drummer Steve Goulding (Graham Parker & the Rumour) and bassist Lu Edmonds (PIL, Damned), who joined John Langford, Tom Greenhalgh, and Kevin Lycett. To record Fear and Whiskey they added fiddler Suzie Honeyman and guitarist Dick Taylor. The original disc was issued on the band’s own Sin Records to much ballyhoo by critics like Greil Marcus. A few years later, Rough Trade reissued it with a few EPs added and called it Original Sin. This version is the original, completely remastered by the band. Musically Fear and Whiskey is awash in the delirium of the Reagan and Thatcher ’80s. Country melodies collide into reggae rhythms and drones to create a forlorn tale in “Trouble Down South”; the title track is pure Hank hillbilly with lyrics that may not be as simple and poetic but do the job, as the tune creates a base from which to pick up the bottle or dance. But it’s not all country and roots, unless those roots still include the dynamic of shambolic punk rock, which is the core of “Hard to Be Human Again.” Despite its country melody line, which falls apart constantly, the guitars blare and falter, the drums pound on needlessly, and the band cavorts the tune like it’s the end of the gig and it only track three. Seriously, there isn’t a song on this disc that Langford and Greenhalgh don’t turn into some epic repudiation of capitalism, depersonalization, greed, and social engineering. The fact is, these serious topics are dealt with in a piss-take way to music that carries everything from honky tonk, hillbilly, rockabilly, reggae, punk rock, and folk melodies all entwined with each other in a myriad of ways so complex, so drunkenly passionate, you just have to laugh — as you dance, that is. A bona fide classic. – Thom Jurek

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