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Tombstone blues

Much has been made recently about how recording artists no longer wait until they have an actual body of work before milking the public with career-spanning best-ofs and compilations. To ponder merely the most egregious example, was there a great public outcry for a Hilary Duff compilation to whittle down her two-album career into one CD of non-hits?

The uninitiated out there could raise similar questions about the Tombstones. After all this Austin-by-way-of-Atlanta punk band released a mere two EPs in its star-crossed heyday, yet it's seen fit to compile that material into the new CD, Twang From the Grave. To those familiar with the Tombstones, however, this disc represents an essential reclamation project, the salvaging of seminal material from the scrapheap of the pre-CD era, with a few choice rarities added for collectors.

Current Choice

The Tombstones

Fri, Sat 9

Sam's Burger Joint
330 E. Grayson

The Tombstones formed 20 years ago in Atlanta with a feral, goth-inspired cowpunk that owed a heavy debt to LA's Gun Club. Hearing tracks such as "Jailhouse Tattoo" and "Dark As A Dungeon" nearly two decades after they were recorded is revelatory because the group's sound remains raw, vital, and undated, and its dark, brooding themes resonate more now than they did during the era of defiantly stupid, spandex-wearing unskinny boppers.

After the band's demise in the early '90s, group leader Stevie Tombstone settled in Austin and established a solid cult for his solo work. But Tombstones fans don't die easily, and the new compilation represents a gift to that core of loyalists, a chance to tie up some loose ends, and, best of all, an excuse for the group to reunite for a tour. That tour opens with a show at Sam's Burger Joint, and it should find the Tombstones inevitably longer in the teeth, but still proudly untamed.

By Gilbert Garcia

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