Just An American Boy CD
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Just an American Boy is a double-album soundtrack of Amos Poe's DVD documentary of Steve Earle touring in the United States and Canada in late 2002 and early 2003; most of the tracks were taken from two performances--in Toronto and in Bloomington, Indiana. Earle has not always had a straightforward relationship with his audiences--standing up in front of southern country crowds and proselytising against the death penalty isn't the easiest way to sell T-shirts--but it must have been doubly strange for a man of Earle's generally liberal sensibilities to be on the road after September 11, 2001. There weren't many people who wanted to hear a vaguely sympathetic song about Marin County Mujahid John Walker Lindh, but Earle wrote one and sang it (the title of this set is the opening line of "John Walker's Blues").
Just an American Boy includes many Steve Earle standards (among them "Copperhead Road", "Guitar Man" and a terrific "Christmas in Washington"), a rousing version of Nick Lowe's "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace Love & Understanding" and several of Earle's lengthy between-song digressions on subjects ranging from capital punishment to trade unions. (The latter are much less of a trial than speeches by rock stars tend to be.) Earle's monologues are as neatly constructed as his songs, and there's more than a hint of his fellow Texan, the great Bill Hicks, in his accent and bleak wit. --Andrew Mueller
Top Customer Reviews
10 years its to be expected that a collection of these songs live
is "preaching to the converted ". I saw the tour in the spring in Bristol and found the Dukes a little heavy handed and one paced , I therefore half expected this album to be less than subtle , this is not the case , Steve's singing voice is way up the mix and every emotion hits you right between the ears.
Steve also takes some time out to put the album and tour into perspective , there was a war going on and many of the songs
directly deal with its morality and consequence , no half measures but no soap box either , just a guy a guitar and a heart. If you like Blues , Country , Folk and Rock'n'Roll its
unusual to get the real thing from one act , Steve Earle pulls it off . Own this record ....its good for your spirit and soul.
Oh and the best track? It's the last track but one; a storming, hearfelt version of Elvis Costello's "What's so funnny about peace, love and understanding?"
Buy it - you know you wanna!
The majority of the album comes from his highly political album, Jerusalem together with a few classics from earlier albums (e.g. Guitar Town, Copperhead Road, Billy Austin, The Mountain and Christmas in Washington) and a couple of covers (Townes Van Zandt's Rex's Blues which segues into Earle's tribute to Townes Van Zandt, the Fort Worth Blues and a rousing version of Nick Lowe's What's so funny about peace and understanding).
The album is punctuated by Earle talking about himself and musing on the subjects of the day: the war in Iraq, the nature of patriotism and Republican attempts to limit free speech in the name of security, his opposition to the death penalty. Christmas in Washington opens with a long spiel about his heroes: men and women of conscience who have, in his opinion, done the right thing from Joan Baez to George Ryan, whose last act as the Governor of Illinois was to commute all the death sentences in the state.
For me the only, mild, disappointment on the album is 'I Remember You', one of my favourite tracks, which misses the vocals of Emmylou Harris and never reaches the heights of the album version.
If you are already an Earle fan then this would be an excellent addition to your collection; if you are unfamiliar with his work then this is not a bad place to start as it provides a good collection of his music and gives some insight into the man himself.
If you are interested in finding out more about Steve Earle then I recommend his biography Hardcore Troubadour written by Lauren St John. Note that Earle has led a turbulent life and his life story is often tragic - it is an interesting book but it is not always an easy read.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Steve Earle was on the crest of a creative wave at the time this was recorded and is in fine form. The quality of the recording is good while not sounding too doctored. Read morePublished on 4 Mar. 2013 by Mr. M Errington