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3.8 out of 5 stars
3.8 out of 5 stars
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on 22 May 2009
Nice to hear Steve Earle giving these songs a new lease of life. I've heard too many Townes songs watered down and sucked of all feeling by too various to mention. Steve adds an earthy and gritty edge to these classics which he learned from his mentor. There are no bad tracks on this album but (Quicksilver Daydreams Of) Maria has always been my favourite Townes Van Zandt song and Steve's version is almost as beautiful.
To conclude Steve Earle is not just a fine songwriter but also a fine singer of songs.
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on 16 June 2014
Steve Earle covering Townes Van Zandt is never going to make a bad album (and certainly I play this cd more than the disappointing The Revolution Starts Now). However I tend to agree with those who see this as somewhat of a missed opportunity; the main reason being that Steve really doesn't add that much to the orginal recordings. The album sounds exactly what you would expect a Townes Van Zandt cover album by Steve Earle to sound like. Steve stripping the original recordings down to fit his version of 'authenticity'; acoustic guitar; banjos; Steve's weatherbeaten vocal delivery and so forth. Whether this is a good or bad thing will depend on the listener.
There is one major omission though and that is the version of Rex's Blues, with spoken introduction, that segued into Steve's own Fort Worth Blues that Steve was playing in concert around this time. I'm not sure if the version on Just an American Boy features the spoken intro, I don't own that CD, but the performances of those songs cut deeper than anything on this album. If you haven't heard them be sure to check them out on youtube.
If you like Townes Van Zandt or Steve Earle you won't regret buying this recording. Whether the album is strong enough to convert any new listeners to Townes, or Steve, is another thing altogether.
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on 30 May 2009
Towns Van Zandt is probably not that well known to those who are not into Steve Earle, but for those of us that are aware of the connection, we are asking 'what took so long?' It really is surprising that Steve Earle has not done this project before, he certainly has in previous releases covered Townes Van Zandt (Train a Comin) but never before exclusivly on one release. Each and every track covered here could well have been from the pen of Steve Earle, so close is the style to that of his own and so deep is the debt he owes to Townes Van Zandt. I have a few T.V.Z. releases which include most of the tracks covered here, but in my humble opinion, T.V.Z. is much more of an aquired taste due to his style of song delivery, and I really do need to be in the correct frame of mind to properly enjoy him. Steve Earle really does breathe new life into these songs, making them his own, thus proving to us that not only is he one of the greatest ever song writers, he is a great interpreter of others work. (Much in the same way as Emmylou Harris or Christy Moore are). Not that we weren't already aware of this as he has released great covers of Springsteen, The Stones and The Beetles, and on two of the three occasions I have seen him live he has covered the greatest song writer of them all Bob Dylan. If you are a Steve Earle fan then I do not need to encourage you to buy this release, it is a far cry from the mediocrity of his last release 'Washington Serenade'. This points to his greatest influance in the field of folk and country. Towns Van Zandt was possibly one of the greatest writers in country and folk music, but I would gladly stand on Steve Earle's coffee table in my cowboy boots and delare that Dylan is still the greatest songwriter of them all.
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on 28 October 2014
Steve is giving it socks but unfortunatley some of the late townes' songs are not strong enough. A labour of love from Steve but it drags a little. Never thought i would say that about any steve earl CD.
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on 21 August 2009
Really disappointed in the Steve Earle "Townes" Cd, thought it quite borinng after awhile, and really didn't see much point in it. Steve didn't add anything different to the recordings. I felt that it was just Steve Earle singing Townes van Zandt! For e.g. his rendition of "Marie" was quite lifeless, compare it with Willie Nelson's rendition on "Poet". In Willie's rendition you can feel the hurt of the protaganist, and the total heartache & devastation of a life, but Steve Earle's version was really anaemic with no great feeling. The second CD is really a waste of time, why not record 15 other Townes Van Zandt songs, there are many great songs in his catalogue. The CD and it's contents just seem very lazy to me. Not impressed at all.

Why did he not try something different like Jonell Mosser did on her album "Around Townes"?

If you want to hear great renditiosn of Townes song do get "poet, a tribute to Townes Van Zandt", on which Steve appears. Much superior album!
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on 3 June 2009
I have to disagree with the other opinions aired on this page. I think Steve has moved too far away from the original versions of these songs. The magic of Townes was his ability to write and sing very strong material yet sound vunerable and fragile. Unfortunately Steve hasnt got the voice to pull this off. If this was just another Steve Earle album perhaps it wouldnt matter but Townes was a master and for me these versions just prove how unique he was. Its not a bad album, it just doesnt live up to expectations
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on 24 February 2010
Steve Earle has picked an excellent selection of songs to cover, showcasing Townes Van Zandt's talent beautifully. A lot of Towne's most raw and powerful tracks were infamously sterilized by over-production and this redresses the balance. I would go so far as to suggest this album is a perfect way into Townes' music and lyrics, if like me, you find the strings and recorders in a lot of the originals distracting.
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on 8 June 2009
Townes Van Zandt was for many "the" iconic Texas singer-songwriter. He was a rambler, a gambler, a drinker and all that stuff, and he died way too young, but in his short span he wrote some rather magnificent songs.
Many have been covered by great names - including Lyle Lovett and the great Guy Clark.

Townes was not always the smoothest of performers, and Steve Earle also has a certain idiosyncratic roughness in his delivery, so it seems fitting that Steve Earle - a disciple of TVZ, and a fine singer songwriter in his own right, has recorded this tribute to his inspiration.

Buy the double album version as the "The Basics" album is well worth the money. Originally, says Steve, the project was intended as a solo acoustic album, and this is what "The Basics" gives you.
The second album repeats some numbers with added instrumentation by such luminaries as the wonderfully talented Darrell Scott, and Tim O'Brien, and Alison Moorer (Steve's wife), and Justin Townes Earle, Steve's son (named for Townes).

Steve sometimes likes to play with electronic toys, but these are rare in this collection - for example "Lungs" but the song is not spoilt by these additions.
In fact most of the additional stuff on the second album (with friends and family) are polite drums, subtle bass, and the odd tasteful banjo. mando, keyboards and guitar.

Buy it. You won't regret it!

Anyway - Steve needs a new razor and a haircut - bless him!
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on 18 June 2009
This is an ok recording, typical of Mr Earle's declining years. He doesn't add anything to Townes' work and I feel it would not be likely to make someone search out more of the van Zandt oeuvre. If I walked into a pub and heard a slightly shambolic band putting out a set like this I'd be inclined to listen but I might not want to pay. On the whole the acoustic set is the stronger of the two.
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on 23 May 2009
This is great,I played it twice on the day it arrived and already this is up there with mr earls best work. I have to say I didnt know townes songs at all so all tracks are new to me and i have not heard the originals, this may be an advantage as i cant compare here, only enjoy the songs one by one as they unfold new and fresh, theres a depth here some songs are instant and some take longer to get under the gonna go play it again,hope you do too.
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