Punk rock has produced few singers with the strength and chops of X's John Doe, and the force and presence of his vocals (and songwriting) on albums like Wild Gift and Under the Big Black Sun rank with the most satisfying rock & roll of the 1980s. But on Doe's recordings with X's acoustic incarnation, the Knitters, and on his debut solo album, Meet John Doe, he showed he was every bit as gifted with country-influenced material, and for years a handful of X fans has been patiently waiting and wishing for Doe to cut a straight-ahead country album. It took a while, but Doe has finally done it, and he's done it right; Country Club is a collaboration with the great Canadian roots rock combo the Sadies in which they interpret a handful of classic country sides in a style that fuses the moody late-night atmosphere of Nashville's countrypolitan era with the straightforward guitar-based sound of vintage Bakersfield acts like Buck Owens and Merle Haggard.
X frontman goes clubbing with the Sadies X always mixed in a little country with its rockabilly punk, but Country Clubbarnstormers the Sadies, is the first time John Doe devoted himself so completely to the genre, covering songs by Roger Miller, Kris Kristofferson, Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard—and even X. Through the Night. ” His only dud is Willie Nelson’s “Night Life,” whose arrangement is so forcefully dramatic that he gets a little lost in the mix.
To fans of American punk and alt-country traditions, John Doe is legendary. He was the bassist and vocal counterpart to the inimitable Exene Cervenka in the influential ‘80s LA roots-punk band X. But it was in a 1986 X side project, a band called the Knitters and an album called Poor Little Critter on the Road, where his potential for a more stripped-down, raw but full country vocal style unveiled itself.
The Sadies have proved themselves master instrumentalists at country and twang, and a fluid backup band able to execute any genre. Doe, who co-fronted seminal L.A. punks X, on the other hand, has a voice you could charitably call serviceable. Whether this collaboration needed to happen is debatable ….