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Thin White Rope - Exploring The Axis (1985) Sack Full Of Silver (1990)
Thin White Rope - 1990 - Sack Full Of Silver
1 Hidden Lands (3:04) 2 Sack Full of Silver (2:13) 3 Yoo Doo Right (6:04) 4 Napkin Song (1:31) 5 Americana/The Ghost (4:34) 6 Whirling Dervish (3:43) 7 Triangle (5:39) 8 Diesel Man (4:42) 9 On the Floe (3:43) 10 On the Floe (4:51)
Sack Full of Silver is, in many ways, one of Thin White Rope's most fully realized sets, blending the group's early alt-psychedelic influences and a growing taste for dusty Americana flavors. Having completed a 16-date tour of the Soviet Union, the group collected covers of Marty Robbins, Lee Hazlewood, and others for the Red Sun EP, followed shortly by this batch of originals penned during the trip overseas. Like all Thin White Rope releases, Sack Full of Silver is defined by the voice of Guy Kyser: the aural equivalent of the flat, parched, endless landscape his characters seem to inhabit. Sobering realizations, like dead ends, await them around every corner. In an environment where failure, desperation, and hopelessness are common currency, adding up one's losses and moving on feels like a great victory. It's clearly no easy task. "The Ghost" catches its subject in the moment before that turning point, looking ahead as a life of loss begins to flood in.
Emerging out of the final chords of "Americana" and "Desert Rock" it rises from the sound of wind-swept sand to a triumphant anthem in the mold of an old folk song. Revealing that they are working within a wider frame of reference, the group adapt Can's "Yoo Doo Right," distilling the original's 20 minutes into a compact, bursting rock number. Though the gray area in between these two styles produces less memorable results, Thin White Rope's brand of American roots has aged more gracefully than the work of some of their contemporaries. Sack Full of Silver remains as fine an introduction to Kyser's vision as any. ~ Nathan Bush, All Music Guide
Thin White Rope - 1985 - Exploring The Axis 1. Down In The Desert 2. Disney Girl 3. Soundtrack 4. Lithium 5. Dead Grammas On A Train 6. Three Song, The 7. Eleven 8. Atomic Imagery 9. Real West, The 10. Exploring The Axis 11. Macy's Window 12. Rocket USA - (live) 13. Roger's Tongue
Review by Nathan Bush
Hailing from the northern California town of Davis, Thin White Rope was initially pegged as a proponent of the paisley underground movement. Such labeling, however, tells half the story at best. The list of bands the group went on to cover over the course of their ten-year career is actually more revealing. Songs by Suicide, the Stooges, Lee Hazlewood, Marty Robbins, Bob Dylan, Can, and a James Bond theme have all been rendered by the band in the studio and on-stage. That list goes a long way in explaining the mixture of raw, angular riffs, southern twang, and icy psychedelia that characterizes Exploring the Axis, the group's 1985 debut. What it does not convey, perhaps, is the relative bleakness of Thin White Rope's music.
Frontman Guy Kyser, guitarist Roger Kunkel, bassist Stephen Tesluk, and drummer Jozef Becker outline a series of barren landscapes, their instruments kicking up clouds of dust from the parched earth like a rollicking, rickety ghost-train headed south. At times Jeff Eyrich's productions approach the wintry heir of Martin Hannett's work with Joy Division. This climate is ideal for Kyser, who delivers tales of isolation, allusion, and death; his voice a perpetually unsteady quake.