In 2010, Shooter Jennings veered away from the country and Southern-rock sound that defined his first three albums and released Black Ribbons, a sprawling hard-edged concept record depicting a totalitarian government where free speech — and even music — is outlawed. In between the tracks, Stephen King plays a freedom-fighting DJ, shining a light on the wrongs of the state and spinning songs by Jennings’ band Hierophant. With a divisive presidential election looming, Jennings has decided the time was right to re-release Black Ribbons — on November 8th, Election Day.
Distributed by Jennings’ own Black Country Rock label, the package includes a double vinyl LP, a CD of the original album, a CD of unreleased and new tracks, and updated album art. Among the album’s highlights are the defiant “Fuck You (I’m Famous)” and the tragic “All of This Could Have Been Yours,” which was used prominently in an episode of Sons of Anarchy.
Since its initial release, the album has come to represent a turning point in Jennings’ creative output, paving the way for more sonically adventurous, progressive albums like 2013’s The Other Life, 2014’s George Jones EP, Don’t Wait Up (For George), and this year’s genre-defying Countach (For Giorgio). A tribute to the electronic-music visionary Giorgio Moroder, Countach features cameos by Marilyn Manson and Brandi Carlile, and dovetails nicely with Black Ribbons. In fact, Jennings says Moroder was an influence on his King-assisted project.
“I listened to Art Bell: Coast to Coast AM and George Noory since I was a young man. And the theme song to that was [Moroder’s] ‘Chase.’ As a kid, when I lived at my parents’ house, I’d crank that up every single night and listen to Art Bell. I always loved that show,” says Jennings, an admitted conspiracy-theory buff. “When I saw that Giorgio did that song, and ‘Chase’ was originally from Midnight Express, I realized that was what I was imitating, unknowingly, on Black Ribbons during the Stephen King bits.”