Essential New Music: Waco Brothers’ “Going Down In History”


To amass 20 years in one cauldron or genre in this fickle mess of a music business deserves high praise in and of itself. And to do so with critically acclaimed music spanning 10 records—with perhaps their best effort to date arriving via longtime hometown stamp, Chicago’s own Bloodshot—is simply enigmatic. The optimist in me believes that we’ve crossed a path into a thirst for real music as a society again. Going Down In History could be the soundtrack—or at least the guitar-driven backbone—of the crotchety frontline. For those of us with age lines and scars from championing an unsung-yet-burgeoning motif for 40-plus years: Can this please be the end of witless bro-country and pop robot music?

The country-tarnished/garage/indie/glam-rock edge of this collection of 10 tracks has not one disappointment. Acid-washed in the classic Waco Brothers recipe of three chords and a fire in the belly, it’s all filtered through a pedal that’s equal parts Waylon and Cash, Strummer, Bolan and Weller. Eight carefully vamped rock songs concocted with ease and fervor, rounded out by an incomparable Jon Dee Graham (True Believers) cover of “Orphan Song” and a Small Faces cover where Jon Langford lays it all out lyrically for “All Or Nothing.” You can hear and feel his emotional distress over the loss of friend and sometime co-conspirator Ian McLagan in the gospel-esque choral build-ups.

—Scott Zuppardo