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Lady Sovereign nearly perfect at Highline last night; Country Music Part I

I’d like to say it was about the time Lady Sovereign shared her Heinekin with the punters at the front of the stage with a shout of “SWINE FLU” or when she sang the addictive chorus to “So Human” or even the well sung and very fun cover of Metro Station’s “Shake it but it was earlier than that, before LS had finished the very first song of the set, “Let’s Be Mates” she had us (what there was of us) in the palm of her hand.

LS has a good flow, sharp rhymes, and attitude to burn. But on top of that she can project those things right on to the audience and with just a DJ and a punch drunk drummer she hammered us home when she needed to us, sang in tune when she needed to, and performed one spot on song after another. Dressed in baseball cap and baggy pants she looked liked Dennis the Menace with a bad dye job.

All of which caused a connection of all of us in the know with the trio on the stage and it was palatably fun and public and private at all at the same time.

LS’s new album “Jigsaw” is a hybrid electronic, pop, hip hop, thing that deserves to be very popular but apparently without anything approaching a management team it’ll never, ever break. Which leads to a problem for a populist and it works like this: a large audience won’t make a bad song good but it will make a good song better and the lack of an audience in popular music will make a good thing somewhat irrelevant.

Another negative: the encore was a let down (which is why it’s only nearly perfect) and that’s it for negatives. The title song of the new album “Jigsaw” is a song and Lady Sovereign sang it well (just before wishing for a guitarist), “So Human” is one of the best songs of the year and “Jigsaw” is one of the best albums of the year. You shoulda been there…

COUNTRY PART I: Have you ever heard of infinite regression? That is the believers argument with the atheists. What created humans? Primal sludge. Primal sludge? Gasses from outer space? the big bang. The big bang? In the end you have to start with something, people of faith call that God, others don’t. I know I could start with bluegrass or hillbilly music, or Alan Lomax mountain music, even the blues, maybe the Carter family. For my (very brief) over view of country I’m gonna start with Hank Williams.

Why? because he was a great songwriter who scored 26 hit singles, many of them top five, from 1947 thru 1952 (I know -it’s ridiculous, isn’t it). He twanged and, well, rocked on stuff like “hey, Good Looking,” “”Jambalaya” and “Why don’t you Love me Like You Used to Do.” A mainstay at the Ol’ Grand Opry (there is a great compiliation of that stuff) he pulled country out of the woodsheds and backwaters of the south and if he didn’t urbanize it (we will get to that in part two) he absolutely popularized it.

With his cowboy hat, his acoustic guitar and old time gentlemanly demeanor, Williams was the template for modern country; loved by women and men alike he was a breathing Rockwell painting (let’s not bother with the demons that would eventually catch up with). If you have ever seen Peter Bogdanovitch’s “The Last Picture Show” the ubiquity of Williams on the radio speaks for itself.

If you have only a passing interest in American popular culture you basically have to get his “40 Greatest Hits,” and if you have a real interest in country you need to listen to his Gospel stuff as well. Last years Unreleased recordings is just brilliant and i hear there is an unreleased Gospel album but I haven’t heard it.

In 2009 you can’t listen to country and not listen to Hank. He rules over it. Still

Next up? Countrypolitan and Patsy Cline (and Owen Bradley)

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