The Live Albumby Robert Earl Keen
Robert Earl Keen, Jr. repeats only one song from his debut album, No Kinda Dancer, on his second release, the concert effort The Live Album, and that is "The Front Porch Song," which he co-wrote with Lyle Lovett. This version is quite different in the sense that Keen provides a spoken commentary that illuminates what is otherwise an abstract set of metaphors, revealing that he and Lovett used to hang out on a front porch while attending college. It's one of several stories that expand on the album's songs and help to describe, if not explain, Keen himself and the characters he inhabits or depicts. They are a bunch of ne'er do wells interested in staying up late, drinking, taking drugs, driving fast, and listening to music, all in one place in Texas or another. Occasionally, their habits prove off-putting to the opposite sex; "Copenhagen," an outright comic song, is about the brand of chewing tobacco, not the city in Denmark, and how its use can stave off marriage-minded females. Sometimes, despite themselves, Keen's wayward men find themselves in relationships that they regret losing ("I Would Change My Life") or feel compelled to sabotage ("I'll Go on Downtown"). Since they are either lamenting the results of their lifestyles or suffering the temptation to resume their bad behavior, they usually aren't very happy, but they tend to be too drunk to notice. This may be the life of the modern Texas cowboy, or just a fantasy projection, but Keen renders it with humor and pathos, often at the same time.
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Performance CreditsRobert Earl Keen Primary Artist,Acoustic Guitar,Vocals
Roy M. "Junior" Husky Bass,Upright Bass
McMurray Acoustic Guitar,Fiddle,Mandolin
Jonathan Yudkin Fiddle,Guitar,Mandolin
Doug Hudson Vocals
Randall Fields Master of Ceremonies
Jonathan Yadkin Acoustic Guitar,Fiddle,Mandolin
Technical CreditsJim Rooney Producer
Phil Barratt Engineer
Doug Hudson Contributor
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(Disclaimer: I'm a (Long Tall) Texan - the following review might not apply to you if you're a Yankee, ever been to Martha's Vineyard, don't think Shiner Bock is God's gift to beer, or couldn't understand why President Bush II would ever want to go to central Texas in August.) This is the greatest live album I have in my collection. (Yes, even better than Lovett's Live in Texas). If I close my eyes, I can smell the spilled Shiner beer and can see the dancing crowd. Recorded live in Dallas at the Sons of Herman Hall, this album captures the feel of a tiny roadhouse with a fantastic country/blues/texan performer on the plywood stage. From the rocking of ''Goin' Down in Style'' (a kid racing his daddy's Cadillac to the Mexico border - just dripping with images of LBJ racing his Cadillac around his ranch), to the hilarious ''Copenhagen'' (telling of the travails of dating while dipping snuff (Aikman did it, but God knows how) ''I've been using it for 15 years and never had trouble with worms or long relationships''), to the old folk song ''Stewball'' (a country boy gets taken by a horse racing shark from Dallas) - this album has it all. Even the comedic songs are poingiantly sad on a second listen, like ''The Front Porch Song.'' Its song I thought was about Aggies (whoop!) harassing the locals in Bryan / College Station for the first few listens. But once past the comedy, its a great song about an old man in central Texas scraping to get buy with anything - including renting to two college kids. You NEED this album in your collection - you won't be sorry - y'all probably even be changed for life. Get it now!