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Cowboy Junkies

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Although it didn't originally have anything to do with their sound, the Cowboy Junkies' name wound up seeming pretty accurate: their music was grounded in traditional country, blues, and folk, yet drifted along in a sleepy, narcotic haze that clearly bore the stamp of the Velvet Underground. The vast majority of their songs were spare and quiet, taken at lethargic tempos and filled with languid guitars and detached, ethereal vocals courtesy of Margo Timmins. Over the late '80s and '90s, the group recorded a succession of critically acclaimed albums that found favor in the alternative rock community. The Cowboy Junkies were founded by guitarist/songwriter Michael Timmins and bassist Alan Anton (born Alan Alizojvodic), who first played together in a Toronto-based band called the Hunger Project in 1979. They later moved to the U.K. and played with an avant-garde instrumental outfit called Germinal, but eventually grew weary of the group's style and returned to Toronto in 1984. They started jamming with Timmins' brother Peter on drums, and in 1985 they recruited a vocalist in sister Margo, at the time a social worker who'd never sung publicly before. Dubbing themselves the Cowboy Junkies simply because the name had a ring to it, they formed their own independent label, Latent, and released their debut album, Whites Off Earth Now!!, in 1986. Featuring only one original song, the album was recorded using only one microphone, and although it was initially available only in Canada, it helped them land a major-label deal with RCA. Their first widespread release was 1988's The Trinity Session, which was recorded inside Toronto's Church of the Holy Trinity in the span of one night -- again using only one microphone. The Trinity Session became a cult hit, earning rave reviews from critics and substantial college radio airplay for tracks like "Misguided Angel" and their cover of "Sweet Jane." Now an underground sensation, the Cowboy Junkies decided to concentrate more on Michael Timmins' original material for the bigger-budget follow-up, 1989's The Caution Horses. The album didn't cause quite as much of a stir, although it helped maintain their cult fan base. Released in 1992, the even more countrified Black Eyed Man found Timmins settling more comfortably into his songwriting voice, which set the stage for 1993's Pale Sun, Crescent Moon. Hailed as their finest effort since The Trinity Session, the record bore more influence from rock and blues, and returned the Junkies to critics' darling status. However, it also proved to be their final album of new material for RCA. As the band left for Geffen, RCA issued the two-disc live compilation 200 More Miles and the best-of Studio. Meanwhile, the Junkies debuted for Geffen in 1996 with Lay It Down, a relatively high-volume effort compared to their shimmering early work. Following 1998's Miles from Our Home, the Cowboy Junkies parted ways with Geffen and revived their own Latent label. Their first release was the 2000 live album Waltz Across America, which was initially available only through the band's website. They followed it a year later with an album of all-new material, Open. One Soul Now followed in 2004. In 2005, the group released Early 21st Century Blues, a collection of covers -- and two originals -- that dealt with "war, violence, fear, greed, ignorance and loss." Recorded in just five days, it harked back to The Trinity Session. Later that year, the band was featured on the Beatles tribute album This Bird Has Flown, which was produced by Jim Sampas and featured various artists including the Donnas and Dar Williams. Meanwhile, the band was busy collaborating with visual artist Enrique Martinez Celaya on a commemorative art book. Released in 2006, Cowboy Junkies XX was a retrospective piece intended to celebrate the band's 20th anniversary. It featured original watercolors by Celaya, handwritten song lyrics, and photographs gathered from the bandmembers' personal collections. The band released a new album called At the End of Paths Taken in the spring of 2007, followed several years later by the announcement of the so-called Nomad Series, an 18-month cycle that aimed to produce four albums built around common (but separate) narratives. Renmin Park: The Nomad Series, Vol. 1 was released in 2010. Following closely on its heels was 2011's Demons: The Nomad Series, Vol. 2, a covers album featuring songs originally written by the late Vic Chesnutt, the band's longtime friend and occasional tourmate. The third volume, Sing in My Meadow, released later in 2011, featured a live, garage rock sound, while the fourth, The Wilderness, which appeared early in 2012, featured new songs and completed the ambitious Nomad Series project. A box set featuring all four Nomad Series albums, plus a disc of extras, also followed in 2012. In 2013, the band presented a recording of Toronto poet Scott Garbe's The Kennedy Suite, a song cycle centered on the 1963 assassination of U.S. President John F. Kennedy. While only one song on the set is fully credited to the Cowboy Junkies proper, its various members participated throughout and Michael Timmins is listed as co-producer. In August of 2015, Timmins announced another box set. Notes Falling Slow included remastered versions of three albums recorded during the first decade of the 21st century -- Open, One Soul Now, and At the End of Paths Taken. It also featured a fourth disc of new recordings. Songs written for these three albums were left unfinished until this project was assembled. A video for the title track and "Cold Evening Wind" were pre-released that month, followed by a series of podcasts where Timmins discussed several songs. The box was issued at the end of October 2015. ~ Steve Huey & Steve Leggett
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Albums by
Cowboy Junkies

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    15 songs

    On Air

    The Kennedy Suite

    10 songs

    On Air

    The Wilderness: The Nomad Series, Vol. 4

    11 songs

    On Air

    Demons

    14 songs

    On Air

    Renmin Park: The Nomad Series, Vol. 1

    14 songs

    On Air

    Studio

    10 songs

    On Air

    Miles From Our Home

    10 songs

    On Air

    Miles from Our Home

    13 songs

    On Air

    Lay It Down

    12 songs

    On Air

    Pale Sun, Crescent Moon

    12 songs

    On Air

    Black Eyed Man

    10 songs

    On Air

    The Caution Horses

    12 songs

    On Air

    The Trinity Session

    40 songs

    On Air

    Notes Falling Slow

    12 songs

    On Air

    Platinum & Gold Collection

    16 songs

    On Air

    Best of Cowboy Junkies

    9 songs

    On Air

    Whites Off Earth Now!!

    20 songs

    On Air

    200 More Miles, Live Performances 1985-1994

    11 songs

    On Air

    At the End of Paths Taken

    11 songs

    On Air

    Early 21st Century Blues

    10 songs

    On Air

    Open

    8 songs

    On Air

    Sing in My Meadow: The Nomad Series, Vol. 3

    15 songs

    On Air

    The Kennedy Suite

    14 songs

    On Air

    Studio: Selected Studio Recordings 1986-1995

    13 songs

    On Air

    Trinity Revisited

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Top Songs by
Cowboy Junkies

  1.   Song
    Popularity
  2.   Sweet Jane
  3.   Misguided Angel
  4.   Walking After Midnight
  5.   Someone Out There
  6.   Hold on to Me
  7.   Angel Mine
  8.   Speaking Confidentially
  9.   To Live Is to Fly
  10.   Something More Besides You
  11.   Come Calling
  12.   One
  13.   Mining for Gold
  14.   Bea's Song (River Song Trilogy, Pt. 2)
  15.   A Common Disaster
  16.   Powderfinger
  17.   White Sail
  18.   Two Soldiers
  19.   No Birds Today
  20.   Take Heart by Reid Jamieson
  21.   Done Your Time
  22.   This World Dreams Of
  23.   Black Eyed Man
  24.   Dark Hole Again
  25.   I Cannot Sit Sadly by Your Side
  26. See All Songs

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Cowboy Junkies

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