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Classic Album Review: The Pine Valley Cosmonauts | The Executioner’s Last Songs Vol. 1

Jon Langford battles capital punishment with a cast of alt-country all-stars.

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This came out in 2002 – or at least that’s when I got it. Here’s what I said about it back then (with some minor editing):

 


Not to slag benefit CDS, but let’s be honest: Anybody can take a stand against world hunger, childhood disease or terrorism. It takes more guts to tackle a touchier issue.

Trust former Mekon, current Waco Brother and eternal country-punk gadfly Jon Langford to put his money where his mouth is. On past releases, Langford’s Pine Valley Cosmonauts have celebrated Johnny Cash and Bob Wills. This time, they tackle a more controversial subject: Capital punishment. The Executioner’s Last Songs, which benefits the Illinois Death Penalty Moritorium Project, brings together a roster of alt-country all-stars on a slate of 18 death row classics — like Brett Sparks’ traditional reading of Knoxville Girl, Steve Earle’s mournful, powerful take on Tom Dooley and Dean Schlabowske’s darkly twangy revamp of The Adverts Gary Gilmore’s Eyes, just to name three. Toss in 15 more and you’ve got a disc as tense, haunting and memorable as a walk down the last mile.