Various Artists – Acres For Cents (Zippo ZNIP 501)

It was not one week ago when I thought of, and missed, an Alternative Tentacles album by Evan Johns and the H-Bombs called Rollin’ Through the Night (1986) that was in heavy rotation when I worked at Johnny Go’s House of Music in Columbus, Ohio in the second half of the 1980s. Then what should appear in Age Concern in Folkestone for 49p (!) but this excellent Zippo compilation (“an outpost of the Demon Records Empire”) of a bunch of Americans (including Johns and several others based in Austin, Texas) in thrall to the Clash and punk rock as young men who latterly discovered the joys of the Byrds and American roots music. This is a good primer for that movement. It is a personally familiar story as it basically describes my own musical journey in the 1980s/early 90s.

The witty title alludes to a long-standing process whereby frontier farmers allowed property tax payments to lapse and pay the financial penalty because it was cheaper than paying taxes themselves–or something like that.  But it neatly evokes the promise of the “AMERICAN DREAM™ while subverting it at the same time.  And I bet the album was originally issued at a budget price. Like I say, witty.

The cover was designed by Phil Smee (later known properly as Phillip Lloyd-Smee when punks were old enough to stop sneering at a double-barreled name) at Waldo’s whose name crops up all over my record collection, mainly as a sleeve designer of Elvis Costello and R&B reissue albums. He’s someone, along with Joe Boyd, that I’d like to invite to a party.  You all can come, too.

Published in: on March 5, 2011 at 3:11 pm  Leave a Comment  

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