Billy and the Kid

Billy and the Kid

by Billy Joe Shaver
     
 

In 1999, Billy Joe Shaver lost three of his great loves when his mother, his wife, and his son and musical collaborator Eddy died, the latter of a heroin overdose. Out of this annus horribilis, Shaver has shaped a remarkable album from tracks Eddy left behind. On the basis of this music it's not overstatement to suggest that, had Eddy lived, the…  See more details below

Overview

In 1999, Billy Joe Shaver lost three of his great loves when his mother, his wife, and his son and musical collaborator Eddy died, the latter of a heroin overdose. Out of this annus horribilis, Shaver has shaped a remarkable album from tracks Eddy left behind. On the basis of this music it's not overstatement to suggest that, had Eddy lived, the band Shaver might have evolved into a rootsy offspring of the British blues-rock outfit Free, with Billy Joe in the role of an avuncular Paul Rodgers and Eddy supplying electrifying, blues-rooted lead guitar à la Paul Kossoff -- with the added plus of Eddy's husky, expressive voice bearing an uncanny similarity to the young Gregg Allman's. Listen to the son's urgent wailing and heavy, driving guitar on "King of Fools" and wonder if this isn't the great lost Allmans track, whereas Eddy the guitarist's soaring, lyrical protests on "Lighting a Torch" recall some of Kossoff's more elegant solo flights. But like his obvious forebears -- Hendrix, Page, Kossoff, Duane Allman, most prominently -- Eddy has nuance at his command, too. "Eagle on the Ground," Billy Joe's poignant memo to a fallen comrade, is a quiet, propulsive meditation powered by Eddy's finger-picked electric lines, which incorporate folk and jazz flourishes. A seductive come-on, "Step on Up" captivates on the strength of Billy Joe's plainspoken randiness juxtaposed against Eddy's sinewy, relentless boogie 'n' blues riffing, suggesting John Lee Hooker. The most poignant moment belongs to Billy Joe, who opens the album with "Fame," a solo acoustic lament about the horrible toll exacted by unchecked ambition, his raggedy voice saying everything necessary about love and loss of a most personal nature. Unexpected and unvarnished, Billy and the Kid, even at its most derivative, is a most compelling statement.

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Thom Jurek
The very nature of this project -- Billy Joe Shaver and producer Tony Colton collecting and "finishing" some songs by Shaver's late son, guitar wrangler and songwriter Eddy -- is fraught with wrenching emotion and struggle; evaluating it is perhaps pointless. But Billy Joe Shaver has done not only an admirable thing, but a worthy one aesthetically. He lays his own broken heart out for the listener on the opening track, "Fame." Raw, accompanied only by his faltering guitar, Shaver digs deep in to offer his gratitude for what he still has -- his unchanging nature, his friends, his life -- in spite of everything -- losing his mother-in-law, mother, wife, and son inside of a year -- and reflects the confounding nature of fame and desire. Billy Joe sings on three more tracks, all of them demoed by Eddy, and a rhythm section; his vocals finish them. On "Lighting a Torch," with its squalling hard rock guitar edge and plodding lyric line, Billy Joe sings Eddy's words with a razored wisdom he wished he didn't have, and indeed, sings them into the ether expecting a response: "I never seen a darker sunrise/I've never felt a deeper pain/The very moment you were dust on the rise/ I was lighting a torch with a brand new flame/You can see me on the dark night/A shadow down in the neon light/ I take my whiskey and I wait for the pain/Lightin' a torch with a brand new flame..." The other seven cuts are all Eddy in one form or another. There's "Baptism of Fire," from a live date in Nashville. It proves him not only a smoking player, but a fine songwriter and worthy frontman. His lyrics, sung in a tense, barely restrained bluesman's baritone, are full of iconic images, metaphors for spiritual and fleshly truth. The demos of Eddy playing guitars and singing, like "Eagle on the Ground," are rough but full of finesse, vision, and heart nonetheless."If It Don't Kill You," which Eddy wrote with Colton and Lacy J. Dalton, is a burning metallic rocker, full of riffing and menacing force and is poignant in its appropriation of Nietzsche: "If it don't kill ya' /It's got to make you strong." The sheer drifting atmospherics on "Window Rock," with Billy Joe singing over Eddy's ghostly guitars across the curtain of mortal existence is hunted, beautiful, and desolate. The album ends with Eddy playing the blues on "Necessary Evil." Just a guitar and his voice, moaning them out and piercing them with his leads. Then profound silence. This is a last testament, finished out of love and agony; it should be embraced for that, but also for its considerable evidence of the depth and beauty of Eddy's talent. That silence is deafening.

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Product Details

Release Date:
08/24/2004
Label:
Compadre Records
UPC:
0616892595021
catalogNumber:
925950

Tracks

  1. Fame
  2. Lighting a Torch
  3. Baptism of Fire
  4. Eagle on the Ground
  5. Drown in Love
  6. If It Don't Kill You
  7. Window Rock
  8. Velvet Chains
  9. King of Fools
  10. Step on Up
  11. Necessary Evil

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