When Gillian Welch released Revival in April of 1996, the LP was hailed as an alt-country classic, an influential Americana album at a time when that movement was in its mere infancy. Twenty years later, the collection is getting a significant re-release.
Boots No 1: The Official Revival Bootleg will be available November 25th on Welch’s Acony Records label. Personally curated and produced by Gillian Welch and partner/producer David Rawlings, the two-disc set will feature eight previously unreleased songs and includes 21 outtakes, alternate versions and demos recorded during the making of the album. Highlights include the earliest four-track home recording of “Orphan Girl,” a song Emmylou Harris included on her career-defining Wrecking Ball album just months before Welch’s LP was released, and “Georgia Road,” which has only been performed live once. Welch and Rawlings worked with archivist Glen Chausse, choosing material from their extensive vault of analog tape recordings.
Other rare recordings include the demo of “Dry Town,” a tune penned just one week after Welch and Rawlings opened for Johnny Cash. A version was included on Miranda Lambert’s 2007 sophomore album, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend but has never been on an official Gillian Welch release.
“I’m happy that the songs hold up,” says Welch. “That’s probably the thing I’m most proud of. There is that interesting moment in any writer’s first batch of songs or any writer’s first novel or anything, a filmmaker’s first movie that always seems to have something that is different from what comes after. Something happens in that first push. Maybe because you’re usually up against more resistance. But there is a purity, or a diamond hardness, to the first batch that doesn’t seem to happen again. Revival has that when I look at it. Maybe it’s lack of ego. You know, there really was no me. The artist Gillian Welch didn’t really exist. And then after that, I did.”
The Grammy-nominated LP was also an influential one for a young generation of songwriters, including Seth Avett of the Avett Brothers, who notes, “I was 13 years old when Gillian Welch won a songwriting contest at Merlefest with the song ‘Orphan Girl.’ Shortly after, when Revival was released, I remember feeling like she and the festival were one and the same. . . like she and the environment around her were the past and the future of music, and unbelievably, they were right down the road from me in my home state of North Carolina. She and David Rawlings contributed mightily to a whole new understanding of what and how a song could be: the simplicity, finesse and timelessness of their work was inspiring beyond measure.”
To date, Welch and Rawlings have recorded seven studio albums and contributed to dozens of other artists’ projects. They were honored with the Americana Lifetime Achievement Award for Songwriting in 2015 and the Berklee American Masters Award earlier this year.
Boots No 1 is currently available for pre-order here.
Boots No. 1: The Official Revival Bootleg track listing:
1. “Orphan Girl” (Alternate Version)
2. “Annabelle” (Alternate Version)
3. “Pass You By” (Alternate Version)
4. “Go on Downtown” (Revival Outtake) *
5. “Red Clay Halo” (Revival Outtake)
6. “By the Mark” (Alternate Mix)
7. “Paper Wings” (Demo)
8. “Georgia Road” (Revival Outtake) *
9. “Tear My Stillhouse Down” (Home Demo)
10. “Only One and Only” (Alternate Version)
1. “Orphan Girl” (Home Demo)
2. “I Don’t Want to Go Downtown” (Revival Outtake) *
3. “455 Rocket” (Revival Outtake) *
4. “Barroom Girls” (Live Radio)
5. “Wichita” (Revival Outtake) *
6. “One More Dollar” (Alternate Version)
7. “Dry Town” (Demo) *
8. “Paper Wings” (Alternate Mix)
9. “Riverboat Song” (Revival Outtake) *
10. “Old Time Religion” (Revival Outtake) *
11. “Acony Bell” (Demo)