Roger Knox is an indigenous Australian, an aborigine who has become known as The Black Elvis and the Koori King of Country. Connecting the dots to figure out how a man from down under can find a fit into Classic Country is easy to understand on first listen to Stranger in My Land, the Bloodshot Records release of Roger Knox and the Pine Valley Cosmonauts. The album is the first Roger Knox studio release in eight years.
Produced by Jon Langford, of solo and Mekons fame, the album rambles along like a cowboy riding herd in the American Southwest. “Blue Gums Calling Me Back Home” rides the outback range, trading in cattle and coyotes for kangaroos and emus. Coo-eee’s replace yippee-ki-yo-ki-yay’s as Roger lets the song’s groove match the beat of the horse’s hooves. Stranger in My Land deals with the history (“Wayward Dreams”), homeland (“Land Where the Crow Flies Backward”) and current conditions (title track) of the black man in Australia. Politics is related over smooth country rhythms, making the lessons an easy learn. Roger Knox is a storyteller who gives the message a bright entry into the world. No spit or resentment follow his tales of Australia’s native citizens.
Producer Jon Langford summed up the studio mood with an overview; “The best music is border music, the sound of cultures colliding. In the late 20th century Black Australians assimilated Country & Western, that whitest of American musical forms, to tell the story of their physical subjugation, spiritual stoicism and eventual political awakening.” Joining the Pine Valley Cosmonauts on the musical explorations of Stranger in My Land are a group of American fans/players who show their appreciation of the music of Roger Knox by plugging in and turning up. Charlie Louvin, Dave Alvin, Sally Timms, Bonnie Prince Bill, Kelly Hogan and The Sadies are some of the artists who expand the sound of Stranger in My Land. DANNY MCCLOSKEY/RA
Listen and buy music from Roger Knox and the Pine Valley Cosmonauts HERE