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The Unforgiven - Album Review

The following The Unforgiven album review was published in Used Records & Tapes #1 [RoosterCow Press]

The Unforgiven - Album Review

On a Friday night many years ago, while driving around rural country roads in a Chevy Chevette with two girls (who weren't sisters but probably cousins) drinking wine coolers (Bartles & Jaymes most likely), waiting for the football game to start, I heard a song play on a mixtape and it stuck in my head for the next twenty years.

Occasionally, I would remember the tune, chorus only, and I would ask some random friend or co-worker if they had ever heard a song that went like this (and I'd sing it to them): “All is quiet, all is quiet on the Western Front/All is quiet on the Western Front.”

Blank stares. Thank god then for the Internet which solved this decades-old riddle with its Google and its Youtube.

You can be forgiven for not knowing this song or that band. Despite writing one of the most memorable pop tunes I had apparently ever heard, The Unforgiven failed to break into the pop charts and pretty much reside in obscurity these days.

The Unforgiven - Album Review

The Unforgiven certainly played a poppy brand of hard rock and if these dudes would have gone the glam route with lipstick and colorful scarves, like your Poisons and Cinderellas, they may have had more success. Instead, they traveled the lonely road of the Wild West Cowboy band—or at least of a band that adopts that particular theme.

To be fair, there was somewhat of a cowpunk movement in underground '80s rock and a bit of a "country is cool" resurgence going on with bands like Lone Justice, Rank & File, and Jason & The Scorchers. The Unforgiven were either too late to the posse, or maybe they were deemed too not-authentic-enough, or maybe they tried a little too hard to cultivate an image that failed to connect.

The Unforgiven went all in with their schtick, complete with songs about hangings ("Hang 'Em High"),  The Civil War ("All is Quiet..."), evil men of the cloth ("The Preacher") and just being a man in general ("I Hear The Call"). They dressed the part, wearing full-length dusters and various accoutrements of the Old West and they even asked Clint Eastwood to direct a video for them. He declined but then allegedly used the band's name and font for his 1992 movie Unforgiven. This is a somewhat dubious claim as the band itself surely took its name from the 1960 Western, The Unforgiven of which Eastwood was no doubt much more familiar with. I also doubt that an actor and director as associated with Westerns as Clint would be so influenced by this band or so involved with the marketing of his movie that he personally chose the font for the movie poster after being only briefly aware of their existence eight years earlier. The fonts are only slightly similar at any rate, but whatever, that rumor is out there apparently.

The Unforgiven were together for only three short years, but have been active more recently according to their website. During their original run, the band released one full-length record and one single: 1986’s self-titled debut album and “I Hear the Call.”

All in all, there’s some good ‘80s hard guitar pop on this record. 

While the gang vocals may be a little too over-the-top for some, it is certainly a guilty pleasure for me that takes me back to that Friday night drinking wine coolers and listening to the tape player in a Chevy Chevette. — Chris Auman

If you enjoyed this Unforgiven album review be sure to buy a copy of Used Records & Tapes number 1 from the RoosterCow Store!

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