Bloodied But Unbowed: Bloodshot Records - Life In The Trenches (DVD)

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In the late '90s, it looked for a while like alt-country was going to break through as the "next big thing" after the grunge-fueled alternative rock boom went sour and both kids and tastemakers were looking for something new. That didn't happen, but while the major record labels gave up on the heady mixtures of punk, pop, and twang, Bloodshot Records, the feisty Chicago indie label that began documenting the city's "insurgent country" scene in 1994, kept at it, and a funny thing happened -- just as important hardcore labels like Touch & Go, Dischord, and Epitaph grew and continued to release a variety of fine music long after the original boon that launched them went bust, Bloodshot's dedication to honest and idiosyncratic roots music became even more potent with time. A dozen years later, they're still putting out great records without much concern for the fickle winds of public taste, and have helped acts like the Waco Brothers, Alejandro Escovedo, Split Lip Rayfield, Robbie Fulks, and Wayne Hancock find an audience. Bloodied But Unbowed: Bloodshot Records' Life in the Trenches is a DVD release that pays homage to the label's history and, even better, allows you to see and hear some of their best acts in action. The meat of this disc is made up of 32 music videos and performance clips from various Bloodshot artists, and since most of the folks on the label deliver great live shows, the quality of this stuff is consistently good. As for the videos, Bobby Bare, Jr.'s "Let's Rock and Roll," the Detroit Cobras' "Cha-Cha Twist," and Wayne Hancock's "Thunderstorms and Neon Signs" get top marks, while Alejandro Escovedo, Jon Rauhouse/Sally Timms, and Split Lip Rayfield deliver the goods big time in their on-stage footage. (On the other end of the scale, the Unholy Trio are represented by three unappetizing rednecks, one of whom really ought not to be flashing her breasts on camera.) The disc also includes a handful of short films, including a hilarious "documentary" on the label narrated by Timms, a fly-on-the-wall look at Ryan Adams and his collection of sunglasses on the road, and a moving profile of veteran Chicago honky tonkers the Sundowners. Anyone who has been following Bloodshot's rough and rowdy approach to country and rock & roll will dig this disc, and folks with a previously unexplored interest in this stuff might want to give this DVD a try -- it's a fun and informative way to get caught up, the atmosphere is infectious, and the music is great. ~ Mark Deming


  1. Dokumentar
  2. Featurettes