Shut Up and Die Like an Aviatorby Steve Earle & the Dukes
After Steve Earle's 1990 album The Hard Way stumbled in the marketplace and his drug addiction became a poorly kept secret in Nashville, he was on the outs with his record label, MCA, who decided to let him out of his contract in the time-honored fashion, with a live album. Shut Up and Die Like an Aviator was recorded in October 1990 during a pair of shows in Ontario, Canada, where Earle had become an arena-level star, and features him and his band rolling through a set of his biggest hits. While Earle's voice was starting to show signs of strain on The Hard Way, here it ranges between sandy and ragged, and there are moments on this album where he sounds like he's running on fumes (most notably "Guitar Town" and "The Other Kind"). At the same time, there are other numbers where he's sharp and committed; he wrenches every ounce of drama he can from "Billy Austin," his short but pointed cover of Jimmie Rodgers' "Blue Yodel #9" is great, and the long, ominous creepy crawl through "West Nashville Boogie" easily trumps the version on The Hard Way. Earle's band is solid and picks up the slack when he gets winded, especially guitarist Zip Gibson and Bucky Baxter on steel and six-string, but while his audience is behind him all the way, Earle himself isn't at his best here. It wasn't until four years after Shut Up and Die Like an Aviator was released that Steve Earle's "vacation in the ghetto" ended and he came back with a vengeance on Train a Comin', and Earle started living up to the potential that the best moments of this album proved he still had in reserve.
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Performance CreditsSteve Earle & the Dukes Primary Artist,Track Performer
Steve Earle Acoustic Guitar,Bass,Mandolin,Electric Guitar,Vocals,Overdubs,6-string bass
Ken Moore Keyboards
Bucky Baxter Acoustic Guitar,Bass,Electric Guitar,Steel Guitar,6-string bass
Custer Background Vocals
Aip Gibson Electric Guitar,Background Vocals
Kelly Looney Bass,Background Vocals
Craig Wright Drums
Stacey Earle-Mims Acoustic Guitar,Percussion,Background Vocals
Zip Gibson Electric Guitar,Background Vocals,Overdubs
Technical CreditsJimmie Rodgers Composer
Steve Earle Composer,Producer,Art Direction
Mick Jagger Composer
Doug Sahm Composer
Richard Bennett Composer
Ron Saint Germain Engineer
Keith Richards Composer
Eric Tarleton Engineer
Michael Woody Composer
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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Shut Up and Die Like An Aviator is an OK live set. Earle sounds a bit ravaged; he would soon spend time in prison for drug offenses. I think his anthology Ain’t Ever Satisfied would be a better overview of this period of his career. Steve Earle deserves credit for bringing politics into country and anyone interested in protest music should sample his work.
Granted, I am a Steve Earle fan from way, way back and this album was probably the one that was most difficult for me to listen to, knowing how sick he was with his addictions and what at terrible place his life had landed.
all of that aside, and granted some of the tracks are not very comforting or even easy to listen to, Steve Earle gave, and gives, 100% to his fans with his music all the time. He treats each song, no matter what, like his first born child. Even when he was barely able to sing, he put more passion into his work than a lot of "clean" singers ever have done. His shows, his music, his overall craftsmanship have made him consistently one of the best singer/songwriters alive today. They will be playing Steve Earle's music 100 years from now when people are asking, "Garth who?"
This album will not fail to impress you, coming from a man who was probably at the lowest point in his life, but still sharing the gifts God so richly blessed him with. No doubt, Steve Earle was, and remains, the best at what he does.