Best of the Sugar Hill Years

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Mark Deming
While he's doubtless grown tired of the comparison by now, as a songwriter James McMurtry's dominant themes often mirror those of his father, novelist Larry McMurtry. Both father and son are fascinated with the shifting character of the American West (though James rarely invokes the name "Texas," while Larry's obsession with the Lone Star State is well documented), the near constant battle between healthy discipline and Earthly temptations, and the various ways in which greed and bad judgment often win out in the end. However, unlike his dad, James can write a solid tune along with his strong, pithy words, and he knows how to lay a tough, sinewy guitar line through his ...
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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Mark Deming
While he's doubtless grown tired of the comparison by now, as a songwriter James McMurtry's dominant themes often mirror those of his father, novelist Larry McMurtry. Both father and son are fascinated with the shifting character of the American West (though James rarely invokes the name "Texas," while Larry's obsession with the Lone Star State is well documented), the near constant battle between healthy discipline and Earthly temptations, and the various ways in which greed and bad judgment often win out in the end. However, unlike his dad, James can write a solid tune along with his strong, pithy words, and he knows how to lay a tough, sinewy guitar line through his songs. While James McMurtry is best known for his first three albums, recorded for Columbia Records between 1989 and 1995, they document an artist who was still finding his feet in the recording studio. In 1997, McMurtry signed a deal with the independent roots music label Sugar Hill, and in many respects the three albums he cut for them -- It Had to Happen, Walk Between the Raindrops, and Saint Mary of the Woods -- are the work of a more seasoned and confident artist (not to mention a more accomplished vocalist), and represent McMurtry's most consistently satisfying work. Best of the Sugar Hill Years skims the cream of his work for the label, pulling a baker's dozen tunes from the three discs, and it's a top-shelf introduction to his work, full of superb tales of people wrestling with their darker angels ("Every Little Bit Counts," "Broken Bed") and callously embracing the failure of their moral compass ("Sixty Acres," "Tired of Walking," "Lobo Town"), concluding with the epochal "Choctaw Bingo," an eight-minute marathon concerning a twisted family reunion dotted with most of the seven deadly sins. Anyone wondering what happened to James McMurtry after his 15 minutes of MTV exposure with "Too Long in the Wasteland" should give this collection a listen, as should anyone who hasn't been exposed to his work so far; it's smart, gutsy, and compelling stuff from a true American voice.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 3/13/2007
  • Label: Sugarhill
  • UPC: 015891402529
  • Catalog Number: 4025
  • Sales rank: 56,205

Tracks

Disc 1
  1. 1 Sixty Acres (3:34)
  2. 2 Every Little Bit Counts (5:45)
  3. 3 No More Buffalo (7:19)
  4. 4 Gulf Road (4:32)
  5. 5 Tired of Walking (5:34)
  6. 6 Lobo Town (5:47)
  7. 7 Broken Bed (4:57)
  8. 8 Paris (4:39)
  9. 9 Walk Between the Raindrops (3:24)
  10. 10 Fast as I Can (5:19)
  11. 11 Out Here in the Middle (4:23)
  12. 12 12 O'Clock Whistle (6:03)
  13. 13 Choctaw Bingo (8:35)
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Album Credits

Performance Credits
James McMurtry Primary Artist, Acoustic Guitar, Guitar, Harmonica, Vocals, Hand Clapping, 8-string Bass, Vocal Harmony, Guitar (Baritone)
Charlie Sexton Mandolin, Background Vocals
Ian McLagan Organ
Lisa Mednick Accordion, Keyboards
Stephen Bruton Mandolin, Electric Guitar
Lloyd Maines Dobro, Pedal Steel Guitar, Tambourine, Hand Clapping, Slide Guitar
Paul Pearcy Drums, Maracas, cowbell, Tambo Drums
Fred Remmert Synthesizer, Shaker
Chris Searles Percussion, Drums, Hand Clapping
Elaine Barber Vocal Harmony
Randy Garibay Jr. Background Vocals, Vocal Harmony
Ronnie Johnson Bass, Background Vocals, Hand Clapping, Vocal Harmony
Lee Barber Vocal Harmony
David Grisson Guitar
Myra Spector Vocal Harmony
Technical Credits
James McMurtry Composer, Producer
Lloyd Maines Producer
Craig Havighurst Liner Notes
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