Steve Earle – Guitar Town (1986) [Reissue 2002]
PS3 Rip | ISO | SACD DSD64 2.0 > 1-bit/2.8224 MHz | 39:46 minutes | Scans included | 1,64 GB
or FLAC(converted with foobar2000 to tracks) 24bit/88,2 kHz | Scans included | 817 MB
In the strictest sense, Steve Earle isn’t a country artist; he’s a roots rocker. Earle emerged in the mid-’80s, after Bruce Springsteen had popularized populist rock & roll and Dwight Yoakam had kick-started the neo-traditionalist movement in country music. At first, Earle appeared to be more indebted to the rock side than country, as he played a stripped-down, neo-rockabilly style that occasionally verged on outlaw country.
On this 1986 debut, Steve Earle burst on the scene as a fully formed songwriting master, synthesizing effortlessly the finest parts of country-folk troubadours like Townes Van Zandt and the anthemic, working-class rock of Bruce Springsteen. “Someday,” a country-rock masterpiece about a kid stuck pumping gas in a dead-end town, remains the perfect realization of this style, and with the exception of the slight and silly “Little Rock ‘N’ Roller,” most everything else here (especially “Hillbilly Highway” and the heartbreaking ballad “My Old Friend the Blues”) comes awfully close. The 2002 reissue, overseen by Earle and original producer Tony Brown, offers fresh remastering, new liner notes by Earle, and a bonus live version of Springsteen’s “State Trooper”.
On Steve Earle’s first major American tour following the release of his debut album, Guitar Town, Earle found himself sharing a bill with Dwight Yoakam one night and the Replacements another, and one listen to the album explains why — while the music was country through and through, Earle showed off enough swagger and attitude to intimidate anyone short of Keith Richards. While Earle’s songs bore a certain resemblance to the Texas outlaw ethos (think Waylon Jennings in “Lonesome, On’ry and Mean” mode), they displayed a literate anger and street-smart snarl that set him apart from the typical Music Row hack, and no one in Nashville in 1986 was able (or willing) to write anything like the title song, a hilarious and harrowing tale of life on the road (“Well, I gotta keep rockin’ while I still can/Got a two-pack habit and motel tan”) or the bitterly unsentimental account of small-town life “Someday” (“You go to school, where you learn to read and write/So you can walk into the county bank and sign away your life”), the latter of which may be the best Bruce Springsteen song the Boss didn’t write. And even when Earle gets a bit teary-eyed on “My Old Friend the Blues” and “Little Rock ‘n’ Roller,” he showed off a battle-scarred heart that was tougher and harder-edged than most of his competition. Guitar Town is slightly flawed by an overly tidy production from Emory Gordy, Jr., and Tony Brown as well as a band that never hit quite as hard as Earle’s voice, and he would make many stronger and more ambitious records in the future, but Guitar Town was his first shot at showing a major audience what he could do, and he hit a bull’s-eye — it’s perhaps the strongest and most confident debut album any country act released in the 1980s.
01. Guitar Town
02. Goodbye’s All We’ve Got Left
03. Hillbilly Highway
04. Good Ol’ Boy (Gettin’ Tough)
05. My Old Friend The Blues
07. Think It Over
08. Fearless Heart
09. Little Rock ‘N’ Roller
10. Down The Road
11. State Trooper