W.C. Edgar,
Alcohol of Fame
(independent, 2009)

I became a W.C. Edgar fan when I heard his album, Old School Survivor (reviewed on this site on 21 October 2017), so I was pleased when Alcohol of Fame crossed my desk. This earlier album allows Edgar's outlaw credentials to shine and, as does Old School Survivor, shows him to be happily and completely out of the current mainstream. Here is a man who, without regard for current tastes and markets, proudly and excellently plays traditional, old-fashioned country music; in an age of plastic, W.C. Edgar is iron.

The album kicks off with a spoken introduction by Doyle Singletary, who lets us know we're in for something special on this disc (Singletary also sings harmony on a cut) before jumping into an uptempo rocker, "Burn That Bridge," which features great ensemble playing and a cool honky-tonk flavor. It's the kind of song that George Jones would have placed between ballads on one of his albums to perk up the listeners who drifted into a sad mood from his lost love songs. It also serves to let us know that Edgar is on the job.

From there we go into a patriotic mood with "When You Don't Buy American." In the notes, Edgar states that his thinking has evolved a lot since this album was made and, indeed, the hyperpatriotic fervor found in this song and in "Red, White & Black" had died down by the time of the release of Old School Survivor. He also, in "...Buy American," advocates the purchase of Budweiser beer, a brand that has been sold to an international conglomerate, a fact he recognizes in his notes. Still, "When You Don't Buy American" is a strong, fiddle-driven ballad. Politically it touches on all of the major focal points of Americanism, including a recording of John F. Kennedy's "ask not" quote. Musically, it is pure country and would not be out of place in David Allan Coe's repertoire.

In fact, Edgar is a master at bringing new life to old country music tropes. In "Mirrors Don't Lie" he gives us the quintessential lost-love song, loaded with good hooks and heartfelt lyrics, while the title song, "Alcohol of Fame," follows the old country tradition of personifying booze, making Jim Beam and Jack Daniels people, old and best friends of the singer. If George Jones was alive today, he'd be in the studio right now, cutting his own cover of this song.

That's the type of singer and writer W.C. Edgar is. His eye is firmly fixed on the past, when country music had a true identity. He is too committed, to fixated or too talented to have anything to do with current trends -- which he strongly attacks in Old School Survivor. W.C. Edgar is determined to be his own man and his own artist.

[ visit the artist's website ]

music review by
Michael Scott Cain

9 December 2017

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