I have had a tape of this for years but just had to buy it when it got re- released on CD as I'd worn the tape out.
I was lucky enough to see Steve, Emmy Lou Harris and The Del McCourry Band when they came to London to promote this and it was one of my favourite concerts ever and I have seen a few!
I'm not really a full time country or bluegrass fan, I just know classs when I hear it. Steve set out to write a bunch of songs that would be played every night somewhere in the world, long after he'd shuffled off. Well personally I think he may well have achieved it. I certainly have played this album at least once a month ever since it came out. It's in my all time top 10 and I have thosands of records in most genres.
The playing and recording is top notch, the songs are top notch and so is this review.
This is one of the best "dance" albums ever. Bar none. From infant to grandparent I defy anyone not to at least tap their toes if not get up and make complete fools of themselves on the dance floor or in living rooms as they jig to a marriage made in heaven. Earle and the gang are so obviousy enjoying themselves that I am only sorry that this is not twice the length.
The wonderful title song from this 1999 album by the very fine Steve Earle was covered by the late and much lamented Levon Helm on his penultimate record Dirt Farmer, but Earle's many songs are coveted by other singers, and that's no surprise as they`re - well, so singable. This is a bit different from most other Earle albums, being a celebration of his beloved bluegrass music - as well as a tribute to bluegrass legend Bill Monroe - and consequently gives the listener a damn good time while listening to fourteen superb songs over 46 rich and surprisingly varied minutes. There's no point in trawling through each track, but one or two deserve singling out. Before I'd scrutinised the song listings, a song came on called I'm Still In Love With You, a duet with none other than one of my favourite singers (in any genre) Iris De Ment, she of the haunting, plaintive voice like no other. She really is a tremendous singer, passionate, earthy, unique. Earle is to be heard with female singers gratifyingly often, and he and Iris make a complementary couple. Besides, any chance to hear Ms De Ment makes my day. Other guests on the album include - surprise, surprise - Emmylou Harris, and the similarly ubiquitous Gillian Welch & Dave Rawlings, as well as legendary dobro player Jerry Douglas, and singers John Hartford and Marty Stuart - all to be heard on the excellent final song, Pilgrim. The one constant throughout is The Del McCoury Band, who back Steve beautifully, his raspy, lazily urgent vocals given just the right backdrop against which to shine. Their playing is both easeful and joyous. I'm finding this is an album I want to hear a lot. Steve Earle, having (we assume) now kicked most of his demons, and happily married (his seventh - trying to get it right, I guess) to fellow country singer Allison Moorer, is a good man to have about the place. Like a country version of Tom Waits, he brings stories from the backroads and tales of underdogs, all sung without fuss but with an easy, gruff charm.
This is a marvellously enjoyable album from one of the best.
I bought this album for one track, Pilgrim. Ended up playing the whole album 4 times on the trot. Not a bad track on the album, my opinion, but then this is my review! The blue grass is excellent, & the songs?, brilliant. Recommend this to anyone who loves blue grass & songs that have a meaning. Alan.
Most people pondering whether or not to buy 'The Mountain' are more than likely to be Steve Earle afficionados already: that is, it's not the sort of offering that someone would wish to sample on a random whim. And, following that same logic, said followers will have a pretty good idea of who Steve Earle is, what his politics say about him, and what politicians ( and probably the NSA amongst others), say about him. I've seen Steve Earle live at every London venue he ever played and I can safely say that apart from Johny Winter maybe, his performances have always delivered beyond any expectations. Which leads to observations about 'The Mountain'....Steve Earle has often veered off the mainstream (although you might say he's never been on it), which I suppose is why some pundits labelled him country-rock in the early days of Exit O, Guitar Town, etc., but I don't think a) He is able to be labelled, and b) Why should he be labelled? Addiction problems notwithstanding, you always get value from Steve Earle and underneath that rebellious exterior you KNOW he's sincere. So,in his live performances you tend to get samples of all his musical phases, with the odd smattering of 'requests' thrown in. When I heard him doing Tennessee folk/country/acoustic songs with the Del McCoury Band, I was a bit taken aback, but it worked fine on stage and is reproduced very well on 'The Mountain'. A couple of the songs are excusably whimsical, but there is profundity in some of the rest...and as ever, musically perfect. It's another direction for Steve Earle, but only as a kind of musical truck-stop. I think that if you like Steve Earle's work, you're going to buy 'The Mountain'....for exactly the same reason that you'd probably buy all of his other material. You almost feel honour-bound to follow his career so that you don't miss the odd diamond of a track, and 'The Mountain' has one in there (the title track) to reward your commitment.