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Issue 9 - Sympathy for the devil

Whisky Magazine Issue 9
April 2000

 

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Sympathy for the devil

Whisky is rock's decadent badge of credibility. Dave Broom rhapsodises about the bohemians whose primal screams reveal an inspired but tortured relationship with the bottle.

We're at a party following a Primal Scream gig in Brighton. A friend presents guitarist Robert Young with a token of his appreciation, a 40oz bottle of Jack Daniel's. Robert proceeds to spend the rest of the evening/morning dispensing huge draughts from his bottle to anyone foolish enough to empty their glass. The party degenerates into scenes of rock'n'roll madness, with this bottle somehow at the centre of it all: band, friends, fans, drinking in the dark, depraved, decadent soul of rock'n'roll.

The band were not long back from Memphis, getting to the swaying, rolling, righteous soul of their music. A Confederate flag appears, the music blares, the bottle is passed around once again ... Whisk(e)y and rock'n'roll have a long convoluted relationship. But to get to the real roots you have to dig much deeper. Nashville-based Ben Payne, a self-styled, “recovering hillbilly flack” [press agent] and guardian of the country tradition takes it back to the late 1700s and into the Appalachians and the start of country music.

“Country is a folk-based music,” he says. “The original settlers were Scots and Irish who brought their folk songs, their instruments. We owe it to these guys coming across and settling in the mountains. Look at where whiskey is produced in this country, it's the same source as the music. To me, that means there must be some greater correlation.”

The wave of Scots/Irish immigrants who arrived weren't welcome on the east coast and drove west, settl...

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