“Slowly Fading Out of Sight”: Bloodshot Records’ Insurgent Country Identity“
Since its first release, Chicago's Bloodshot Records has continuously employed a format featuring multiple performers, including compilations, free samplers and digital downloads, and tribute albums. The first album was a convenient and cost-effective way to begin a record label, but Bloodshot’s use of the format is critical to the label’s identity, branding, and musical practice. The collaborative nature of the compilation draws on Bloodshot’s roots in the punk scene, but its early albums featured country music, and the label’s use of cover songs and tribute albums engage traditions and practices that are entrenched in country music history. Bloodshot’s use of covers and tribute albums merge a local identity with a broader national identity, establishing a particular musical lineage by associating the label with distinct versions of “authentic” country music. This session examines the record label’s use of tribute albums, considering the star persona of the artists receiving tribute, but also the featured artists, the “original songs” and the cover versions. These projects are significant for the layers of meaning they contribute to Bloodshot Records’ branding and identity by historicizing and legitimating the record label’s early insurgent country offerings, but they also expanded Bloodshot’s brand and identity beyond a punk and regional reputation through an association with nationally and internationally known artists.
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