It's ironic that one of the foremost keepers of America's country-music flame is erstwhile Mekon, full-time Waco Brother, and all-around rock 'n' roll bloke Jon Langford. The Mekons was one of the first bands to embrace the dark, disenfranchised Americana of Hank Williams as its own—it was certainly one of the few British groups to do so—and Langford's interest in country music has only grown. In the liner notes to his first recording with The Pine Valley Cosmonauts, the Johnny Cash tribute Misery Loves Company, Langford described Cash as "the polar opposite of the cozy, safe, sexless, and bland that white America usually clutches to its all-purchasing, suffocating breast." Bob Wills, the undisputed King of Western Swing, may not exude the same True Grit as Cash, but Langford and friends still find plenty of reasons to worship the legendary fiddler and bandleader with one of the most joyous tribute albums ever recorded. These days, Wills' music can be perceived as definitively country, but Wills saw himself as more akin to the blues and jazz from which he borrowed. With an all-star cast that includes many artists from Bloodshot's rapidly growing family tree, the members of The Pine Valley Cosmonauts do justice to his diverse tastes, bounding from one dance-floor duster to the next while mixing infectious instrumentals ("Texas Playboys Rag") with classics ("San Antonio Rose," "Stay A Little Longer"). Guests including Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Robbie Fulks, Sally Timms, Edith Frost, Alejandro Escovedo, Jane Baxter-Miller, Brett Sparks, and several Waco Brothers all take turns with the vocals, adding a good deal of variety to Wills' swing. While everyone on earth once again gears up to dance to Bob Wills' timeless music, somewhere up in heaven the man himself is surely smiling.

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