Rummaging through a bag of old cassettes, singer/guitarist Cypress Grove came across one mysteriously marked "JLP Songs".
Discovering it contained rough rehearsals of three songs written by the late Gun Club frontman Jeffrey Lee Pierce, Grove set in motion the process that led to We Are Only Riders, contacting old friends and admirers of Pierce – including Lydia Lunch, The Sadies, Crippled Black Phoenix and Nick Cave – to record or complete the songs as they saw fit. Along the way, another cassette furnished a couple more songs, and before long there was enough for this album. The initial three songs each receive three interpretations: the cautionary outlaw lament "Ramblin' Mind" is done by Grove himself, by David Eugene Edwards, and most impressively by Nick Cave in a version haunted with dark portents; Cave also duets with Debbie Harry on a version of "Free To Walk", though theirs and The Raveonettes' versions are outshone by that of Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan with mandolin, banjo and lap-steel guitar: "The door is always open, and your path is free to walk". Lanegan's darkling baritone brings the shadow of the penitentiary to loom most evocatively over "Constant Waiting", though the deranged rockabilly version by Johnny Dowd has a certain spiky charm of its own.
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