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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 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 9 January 2017
Very good, love it
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on 16 July 2015
ok
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on 24 March 2015
moody moody moody, great album though
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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 11 February 2010
If you're already a Steve Earle fan, this is OK but nothing sticks in the memory. It would certainly not make me rush out and explore any of Townes own work.
If you've never got into Steve Earle before, I suggest other CDs. This is just a run through of a mate's tunes - and it shows.
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on 14 October 2013
just what i expected. tecumseh valley is still my favourite Townes cover by steve.
new album LOW HIGHWAY is a cracker
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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 skin.im gonna go play it again,hope you do too.
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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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