Producers: Richard Bennett, Emory Gordy, Jr., Steve Earle, Tony Brown.
Includes liner notes by Karen Schoemer.
During the early period of Earle's career, as chronicled here, he took the staid '80s Nashville music world by storm, kicking up an iconoclastic, rock-influenced storm the likes of which hadn't been seen since Waylon Jennings' early outlaw period 15 years prior. Like Waylon, Earle toted a larger-than-life sound, badass attitude, and gritty country-rock sound with him into the studio. Fortunately, he also possessed a craftsman's gift for songwriting.
This disc concentrates mostly on Earle's groundbreaking debut, GUITAR TOWN, and rightly so. That album's title tune, as well as the snarling "Devil's Right Hand" and "Good Ol' Boy (Gettin' Tough)" combine a knack for sharply turned wordplay with a real insight into the depths of the American underbelly. One of Earle's primary influences was Townes Van Zandt, a fact made plain by the narrative skills Earle displays on "Copperhead Road." To prove that Earle can sing a truck-driving song with the best of them, a rocking version of Dave Dudley's classic "Six Days on the Road," originally used for a movie soundtrack, is also included. ESSENTIAL STEVE EARLE makes a fine starter kit, but once you try it, you'll want to continue on to further appreciate the riches in Earle's oeuvre.
What the critics say...
Entertainment Weekly (3/5/93, p.59) - "...This compilation shows Earle moving from rockabilly to rock and captures the hostility and disillusionment of the nation's itinerant underbelly..." - Rating: A+
- Guitar Town
- Hillbilly Highway
- Devils Right Hand, The
- Goodbye's All We Got Left To Say
- Six Days On The Road
- Cool Ol Boy (Gettin' Tough)
- Copperhead Road
- Rain Came Down, The
- I Aint Ever Satisfied
- Nowhere Road
- Week Of Living Dangerously, The
- Continental Trailways Blues