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20 Originals: The Early Years
     

20 Originals: The Early Years

by Chris LeDoux
 
Chris LeDoux, Garth Brooks's favorite bronco-riding, singing cowboy, once had a flourishing little business selling his homemade recordings at the various rodeos in which he competed. Highlights from the scuffling days comprise the 20 tracks here, almost all of them centered on details of the modern-day cowboy's life and loves. Recorded

Overview

Chris LeDoux, Garth Brooks's favorite bronco-riding, singing cowboy, once had a flourishing little business selling his homemade recordings at the various rodeos in which he competed. Highlights from the scuffling days comprise the 20 tracks here, almost all of them centered on details of the modern-day cowboy's life and loves. Recorded on a sparse budget with a sturdy combo supplying lean, lively instrumental support (think post-honky-tonk, pre-countrypolitan mainstream country), these songs have an uncommon vitality that can only be attributed to LeDoux's intimate connection to the rodeo life -- this is the sound of a man who loves his work, whether it be rodeoing or documenting its world in song. A good woman's love for a rodeo man is cause for celebration in "Fine as Wine," a sturdy bit of contemporary country with a Bakersfield edge. Heck, he even stirs up a lively two-step to extol the virtues of a brand of snuff in "Copenhagen." Ever the realist, though, LeDoux spends ample time on the dark side. With a harmonica blowing low and mean and the band surging angrily behind him in "I've Got to Be a Rodeo Man," LeDoux catalogues the long, hard climb to respectability ("I ain't really a bum," he sings) from the lowest rungs of the rodeo milieu, and in the bluesy "Freedom Ain't Free" he issues cautionary advice that life on the top rung brings pain that can't be salved by silver and gold. Despite being jaunty and jubilant in tone, "It Ain't the Years, It's the Miles" explains the exhausting, near-debilitating physical toll the circuit takes on a body. Rodeoing is an insular environment, but LeDoux limns its nuances in ways that are always entertaining, often enlightening, and occasionally moving.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Chris LeDoux didn't start having hit singles until the early '90s, 20 years after he began his recording career. Capitol's 2004 compilation 20 Originals: The Early Years is the best retrospective yet of those pre-hit years, collecting a variety of highlights cut between 1973 and 1986. While LeDoux's aesthetic never changed over the years -- he was always devoted to being a modern-day cowboy, loving to celebrate rodeos -- the sound of his music changed over the years, melding to the production styles of the time. That's why these recordings, largely taken from the outlaw '70s where fuzz guitars battled with twangy Telecasters, are so much fun -- they're raw and rowdy, arguably the music that best sums up his attitude. So, while you won't find hits on 20 Originals, you will find some of LeDoux's best music on a collection that is likely the best overview of his formative years yet assembled.

Product Details

Release Date:
06/15/2004
Label:
Capitol
UPC:
0724357676328
catalogNumber:
76763
Rank:
14303

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