Bloodshot Records has been on the scene since the early days of what some people call alt.country. Early Bloodshot artists include Ryan Adams, The Old 97’s, Alejandro Escovedo and Jon Langford. They have recently reached their 20th years of releasing albums and chose to celebrate by putting together the compilation While No One Was Looking.
The concept is a fairly unique one: Bloodshot asked musicians they liked and respected to record their own version of a song that was released on Bloodshot in the previous 20 years. This double CD (3LP) includes several cool but unsurprising offerings like Chuck Ragan covering Cory Branan’s “Survivor Blues”, Superchunk crushing their fellow North Carolinian’s “Come Pick Me Up” and Daniel Romano doing a tune by Jon Langford & The Sadies. It’s fun to here artists you know doing songs by other artists you know, especially when you can see the parallels that led one to the other.
Clocking in at 38 songs, While No One Was Looking also has the unexpected moments that every compilation needs. Hearing the Handsome Family bringing their gothic overtones to The Bottle Rocket’s “1000 Dollar Car” is a trip and a half. I also really enjoyed the gender flips, Carolyn Mark singing an Alejandro Escovedo classic and William Elliott Whitmore tackling one of my favorite Neko Case tunes is worth the price of admission.
Overall, While No One Was Looking has way more winners than not, as compilation-heads are sure to understand, and the uniqueness of the tracklisting makes it a must have for diehard fans and radio DJs.
Buy While No One Was Looking directly from Bloodshot Records