How to Buy – Steve Earle

Tuesday 31st March

I used to be in the habit of buying cheap CD singles, this was in the early nineties and you could pick them up for 50p or less.  One which took my eye was by Steve Earle, it was ‘Justice in Ontario’.  I’d not heard of him before but I was hooked, working backwards and then forwards as the years rolled on.  I don’t have every single record, but pretty much most of them.  He is from Texas and should be a redneck Republican, but is actually very left wing, anti guns, anti death penalty and anti war.  He sings Hillbilly, Country and Raw Rock, a great combination….

Absolutely Essential – Guitar Town, his debut and almost unsurpassed with a whole bunch of exceptional tunes, including ‘Little Rock’n’Roller’ a song for one of his estranged children. Also ‘Train a Comin’  his comeback album after a few years detained in jail for various drug related offences.  This has the poignant ‘Goodbye’, a beautiful take on Beatles ‘I’m Looking Through You’ and a Townes Van Zeldt song ‘Tecumseh Valley’ – never has Steve sounded better.

Very Good – his remaining pre-prison albums ‘Exit 0’, ‘Copperhead Road’ and ‘The Hard Way’ – also a great Live album ‘At The BBC’.   Not forgetting ‘El Corazon’ ‘I Feel Alright’ and ‘The Revolution Starts Now’ – all later albums which have that great mix of heavy rocking, a dash of politics and poignant heartache ballads.

Good – are ‘Transcendental Blues’ and ‘Jerusalem’ and ‘Washington Square Serenade’ but for me they don’t quite hit the heights.  Another very good live album is ‘Just An American Boy’

For The Completist – The Mountain, a pure bluegrass album, and ‘Shut Up and Die’ an earlier live record.

Personally I will listen to anything of his anytime anywhere and enjoy it.  His Greatest Hits are also available but as he changed record labels a few times there doesn’t seem to be one which covers his entire career. He still makes records every couple of years and they don’t diminish in quality; amazingly he keeps coming up with new melodies that are almost as infectious as his first ones.  A true original.