Rank and File
Reviewed by Jim Caligiuri, Fri., Aug. 15, 2003
Rank and FileThe Slash Years (Rhino Handmade) In the late Seventies, Chip and Tony Kinman were a major influence on the L.A. punk scene as members of the Dils. Where others played hard and fast, the Dils were slow, lengthy, and occasionally acoustic. Refusing to join the burgeoning hard-core scene, the band broke up. Tony took some time away from music while Chip moved to New York to form a band with Alejandro Escovedo, who had left the San Francisco-based Nuns. Eventually all three moved to Austin. After opening some shows for the Blasters, Rank and File signed to Slash Records and in 1982, put out Sundown. Escovedo left the band before their second LP, Long Gone Dead, which possessed even more twang. Rhino Handmade, the imprint that releases cult favorites in limited quantities, has combined both albums on one CD. They've also remastered the sound and added three outtakes from the Sundown sessions, as well as a live take of George Jones' "White Lightning." Through the haze of 20 years, it's difficult to understand how what Rank and File did was ever classified as cowpunk. For sure, they produced some terrific songs like "Amanda Ruth," "Sound of the Rain," and "Long Gone Dead." Their sound owes a great deal to Gram Parsons, but Steve Earle, probably unwittingly, was more punk than Rank and File. The production, meanwhile, screams, "This is the Eighties," with a wimpy drum sound. If you were a fan back then, you'll probably want this, but those of us who are happy that all that's history are happy to stay away.