Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Cowboy Junkies-The Trinity Sessions Revisited

Like many, I got into the Cowboy Junkies classic "Trinity Sessions" when it was released back in 1988 due to their amazing deconstruction of the Velvet Underground's "Sweet Jane". But it didn't take more then 20 seconds into the opening track before I was completely transfixed with this strange beauty of an album. It did not leave my turntable for the rest of the year.

In 1988, I was listening to nothing at all that sounded like the Cowboy Junkies. No one was. 1988 was the year of Public Enemy's "It Takes a Nation....", Jane's Addiction's "Nothing's Shocking", Metallica's "And Justice for All", and Sonic Youth's "Daydream Nation". It seemed to be the year for crashing down musical boundaries and making as loud a noise as possible. And in a way, with it's minimalist instrumentation and hauntingly beautiful vocals by Margo Timmins, the Junkies broke as many boundaries as anyone else that year.

Blending the traditional music of Hank Williams, the alternative poetry of Lou Reed, with original songs that could match either of those artists, the 12 songs on "Trinity" simply seemed like they fell down from heaven. I pulled out the album tonight for the first time in almost 15 years and it still has as much of a memorizing quality as it did back then. Not just one of the best albums of the 80's, but truly one of the best albums of all time. If you loved it then, pull it out and loose yourself again in it's spell. If you've never heard it, go now. You'll thank me later.

In 2008 to mark the 20'th anniversary of the album, the band invited guests such as Vic Chestnut, Ryan Adams, and Natalie Merchant to join them at the same church the original was recorded to play it again. If you're a fan of the original, the DVD of the session is well worth seeking out.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The first time I really listened to CJs was when I was camping in the woods appropriately in Ontario around 1992: the album was Black Eyed Man. I was completely blown away. I soon then discovered the Trinity Sessions. Your commentary on Trinity is dead on. Nice writing Dave!