Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

Cotton Jones Basket Ride - The River Strumming

Cotton Jones Basket Ride
The River Strumming

Released 2008 on St. Ives
Reviewed by Graveyard Poet, 27/08/2011ce

Imagine if Van Morrison, rather than Jim Morrison, had been the lead singer of the Doors. Imagine if the Doors had been a bar band stranded somewhere in the Midwest instead of a counterculture phenomenon in L.A. Imagine if their showcase was the Grand Ole Opry, not the Whisky-A-Go-Go. Imagine if their music conjured dreams of roadside attractions, river hideaways, ghost towns, and empty highways rather than hallucinations of deserts and jungles. Imagine if the mantra was not "Break On Through" but "Exist And Pass."

That's the beauty and wonder of Cotton Jones, evident even on their obscure debut aptly entitled The River Strumming.

From the ghostly opener "It Comes To Me Now" (an ambiguous washing machine tumbling in an abandoned basement while the dead souls of ancestors stare at you in your bedroom) to the simple yet deeply spiritual closer "I Don't Suppose" with its lines "Nothing's real anymore" & "You're only here, there's nothing more", the band truly take you on a journey. The album has a seamless flow, each track segueing into the next perfectly.

"To Death With You" is the best ballad of cinematic heartbreak Mazzy Star never wrote, "The Spinning Wheel" sounds like a lost gem from the Velvet Underground's third (and by far best) album, "Midnight Monday" is a Southern Gothic dreamscape, "I Was Stoned By The Choir" contains will-o'-the-wisp background vocals and then morphs into a reggae rhythm, and "I Do What I Do" has a damn good danceable nocturnal groove, impossible not to nod your head along to.

If you want to hear the coolest record of the 2000s, this is the one.

Reviews Index