Prior to the start of the Together Again tour at the end of 2017, the talk amongst Alfie fans was all about which songs he would choose for his solo spot – not many of us guessed that one of the songs would be a rip roaring country song, Wagon Wheel, complete with Alfie on guitar. I know I’m not the only one who had never heard of Old Crow Medicine Show, who co-wrote the song (from a part written sing by Bob Dylan) although Wagon Wheel is by far and away their best known song. The band have been around for a long time, coming from a live show background all the way to the 2014 Grammy for best fol album for Remedy.
Old Crow Medicine Show (OCMS) have a distinctive old time, bluegrass sound and have been putting out new music for twenty years, characterised by storytelling (the thing I love most about country), rip roaring catchy hooks, and a supreme danceability – always a plus for me. Of their half dozen albums, the ones I chose to listen to were the eponymous OCMS (2004), Tennessee Pusher (2008), Carry Me Back (2012) and Remedy.
Their first, self titled album was the one that launched them and their most famous song, Wagon Wheel and where I started with this band. I sailed through this album, loving it but not really finding a stand out track apart from Wagon Wheel. Tennessee Pusher was a different story; I LOVE this album! Every track delivers and has something to say on a diverse range of subjects. Motel in Memphis reflects on the life and death of Martin Luther King Jr while Methamphetamine treads the sorry tale of that particular drug. The upbeat, catchy music cleverly juxtaposes against the lyrics detailing the downfall of drugs and how small towns can be ravaged by it. However, my favourite track is Caroline which is just lovely:
OCMS certainly know how to write and perform great albums, packed full of catchy songs you find yourself singing days after. Carry Me Back and Remedy both have some stand out songs amidst a feast of equally good album tracks. From the former, I liked Carry Me Back to Virginia and Levi, both tales of war, albeit from different centuries. If you like a bittersweet love song, you could do a lot worse than Genevieve. Half Mile Down is incredibly catchy too.
The last of the albums I listened to is Remedy and yet again, I loved it. Sweet Amarillo (another Dylan collaboration, from a part written song) is my favourite:
Dearly Departed Friends is another song that takes war as its subject and brings the sadness right home with the lyric “twenty one guns [salute] for twenty one years”.
If you like your country music to come with a broad streak of bluegrass, lots of danceability and thoughtful lyrics, then this band is for you. Fiddle, banjo and harmonica fans are in for a treat with Old Crow Medicine Show. Thanks Alfie for the introduction – I loved this one!
Remedy and other albums are available here:
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