Townes

( 3 )

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Thom Jurek
In his brief liner sketch on this album of Townes Van Zandt covers, songwriter Steve Earle writes: "I always read everything Townes told me to read. All of us did; we who followed him around, or simply bided our time in places along his migratory path, for we were indeed a cult, in the strictest sense of the word, with Townes at its ever shifting center." While what it was he read isn't worth spoiling here, it's the last part of that long sentence that really matters. Van Zandt inspired a cult, and an even bigger list of pale imitators. Earle may lionize the man and the artist (hence the tribute record), and may have even begun as an imitator, but he became something else ...
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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Thom Jurek
In his brief liner sketch on this album of Townes Van Zandt covers, songwriter Steve Earle writes: "I always read everything Townes told me to read. All of us did; we who followed him around, or simply bided our time in places along his migratory path, for we were indeed a cult, in the strictest sense of the word, with Townes at its ever shifting center." While what it was he read isn't worth spoiling here, it's the last part of that long sentence that really matters. Van Zandt inspired a cult, and an even bigger list of pale imitators. Earle may lionize the man and the artist (hence the tribute record), and may have even begun as an imitator, but he became something else entirely -- an iconoclastic (and iconic) artist and producer in his own right who can interpret these songs as such. Van Zandt may have indeed been Earle's "schoolmaster," but it's Earle who does Van Zandt's artistic legend justice in these 15 diverse, yet stripped down performances of his songs. Many of the choices are obvious: "Pancho and Lefty," "To Live Is to Fly," "White Freightliner Blues," "Delta Momma Blues,"and "Don't Take It Too Bad" among them. Some would be less so, save for an artist of Earle's particular vision and world bent: "Mr. Mudd and Mr. Gold," "Rake," "Marie," "Colorado Girl," and "(Quicksilver Daydreams Of) Maria." That said, none of these arrangements are predictable, and yet all of them work. Earle's approach is very basic with some interesting twists and turns. Acoustic guitars, upright basses, mandolin, Dobro, banjo, fiddle, and mandola sit alongside electric guitars (thanks to Rage Against the Machine's Tom Morello) and basses, harmonium, and effects. The distorted blues harp and hand percussion on "Where I Lead Me," is an excellent touch, but the megaphone vocals, ambient and feedback noise, and drum loops and electric guitar crunch on "Lungs" make it sound more like Black 47 covering Van Zandt. The reverb and loops on "Loretta" juxtapose beautifully against the acoustic guitars and the fiddle. The version of "Marie" is less harrowing than its author's; it feels more third-person narrative than first-person horror story -- thank goodness. "White Freightliner Blues" captures the free-in-the-wind bluegrass nature Van Zandt intended, perhaps more so than his own world-weary delivery, thanks in large part to Tim O'Brien's mandolin, Darrell Scott's banjo, and Shad Cobb's fiddle. Earle would have had a hard time blowing this record. Certainly, he's closer than most to the material as he was to the man, but more than that he's a great songwriter and an avid folk music enthusiast. He understands lineages and the way the tales get told matter in order for them to live on. That's the easy part; the more mercurial thing is how well he succeeded. Earle made Townes' songs seem like an extension of his own last album, 2007's Washington Square Serenade. The same anything-goes-attitude, the adherence to all kinds of folk music, whether it's from across oceans, terrains, or alleyways, whether its roots are rural or urban, permeates this recording, making it an Earle record most of all; and that is about as fitting a tribute as there is to Van Zandt.
New York Times - Anthony DeCurtis
In a sense it is the Townes Van Zandt album that Van Zandt couldn’t or wouldn’t make himself, but should have. "It is a form of channeling at its best," said Mr. Earle, who recorded most of the album in his Greenwich Village apartment. "What I tried to do is sit in a room by myself for 12 of the 15 tracks and play them as close to the way I remember him playing them."
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 5/26/2009
  • Label: New West Records
  • UPC: 607396502226
  • Catalog Number: 5022
  • Sales rank: 57,421

Tracks

Disc 1
  1. 1 Pancho and Lefty (4:01)
  2. 2 White Freightliner Blues (3:27)
  3. 3 Colorado Girl (3:35)
  4. 4 Where I Lead Me (3:29)
  5. 5 Lungs (2:18)
  6. 6 No Place to Fall (2:52)
  7. 7 Loretta (3:14)
  8. 8 Brand New Companion (5:12)
  9. 9 Rake (3:22)
  10. 10 Delta Momma Blues (5:14)
  11. 11 Marie (4:52)
  12. 12 Don't Take It Too Bad (3:12)
  13. 13 Mr. Mudd and Mr. Gold (2:17)
  14. 14 (Quicksilver Daydreams Of) Maria (3:20)
  15. 15 To Live Is to Fly (3:40)
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Album Credits

Performance Credits
Steve Earle Primary Artist, Guitar, Harmonica, Mandolin, Percussion, Harmonium, Vocals, Mandola
Dennis Crouch Bass, Bass Guitar
Tom Morello Electric Guitar
Greg Morrow Drums
Tim O'Brien Mandolin
Darrell Scott Banjo, Dobro
Allison Moorer Vocals
Shad Cobb Fiddle
Steven Christensen Percussion
John Spiker Electric Bass
Justin Townes Earle Guitar, Vocals
Technical Credits
Steve Earle Producer, Liner Notes, Audio Production
Danny Goldberg Management
Matthew Moore Composer
Townes Van Zandt Composer
John King Producer
Tony Fitzpatrick Cover Art
Brady Brock Publicity
Ruben Studdard Composer
Steven Christensen Engineer
Ray Kennedy Engineer
Dave Nokken Management
Jesse Bauer Management
Amanda Hale-Ornelas Publicity
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3
( 3 )
Rating Distribution

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4 Star

(1)

3 Star

(1)

2 Star

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1 Star

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 23, 2011

    Great tribute from one great musician to another

    While this lacks some of the dynamism found in other Steve Earle collections, this is intended as a tribute to Townes Van Zandt and holds its own as such. Earle interpets the music of his friend/mentor beautifully, bringing a sensitivity that only he could. Not what you might be used to from Earle, but definitely not to be missed.

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  • Posted October 1, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    earl rocks on

    Me country does not possess certainty of the existence of the legend Earle is. To me when I first heard the sublime when I fall, I decided I would sing it in me wedding day; bride is yet to be discovered, but the song is set. I spent a long time deciding whether write about the story or the cd. Both are so beautiful it is with regret that I had to decide. Reading about tragic Wounded knee opens the story behind the cd. Mr Townes told Mr Earle to read the story & that very anecdote inspired the making of it. From "Pancho & lefty" to "white freightliner blues" to "don´t take it too bad", it is to unveil new generations there was a time when music mattered. Wonderful

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  • Posted October 1, 2010

    so-so

    i am a big steve earle fan but no album by him has left me as cold. AND i have heard Van Zandt albums. i think earle was just too close to the guy and this is TOO low key and pitying. i know THIS sounds COLD but music is music and this seems like a wake.I really hope it grows on me but I played it in the car for days and just stopped. SORRY

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews