POLL: Steve Earle discography

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Between The Mountain and Transcendental Blues for me

President Keyes, Monday, 17 January 2011 22:52 (eight years ago) link

I've got a special place for Transcendental Blues and The Revolution Stars Now, but Train A Comin' is about as face to face and inviting as Steve has ever gotten with the listener. Have to vote for that one.

Dr. (Johnny Fever), Monday, 17 January 2011 22:54 (eight years ago) link

Oh, we've apparently done this before: it loads a mite slow: the STEVE EARLE ALBUMS poll

Dr. (Johnny Fever), Monday, 17 January 2011 22:57 (eight years ago) link

I Feel Alright is a stone classic; I love the production on that album, sounds like it's being recorded from inside the bass drum, feels like it's going to blow my hat off. There's precious little of the cheese that mars his other works (think of the second side of Copperhead Road or "Poison Lovers" e.g.). And I love its country-styled Merseybeat.

After that, Train A Comin' (man his "Tecumsah Valley" is raw, plus obv. "Goodbye"; dude knows his way around a tearjerker). And then I dunno: I loved this guy for a lot of years & lost my interest with The Mountain, and never caught back up.

Also I think I'd love the first few a lot more with a suitable remastering, or on vinyl maybe, b/c my cds sound too tame & distant.

Euler, Monday, 17 January 2011 22:57 (eight years ago) link

xp haha I guess I said kinda the same thing last time!

Euler, Monday, 17 January 2011 22:58 (eight years ago) link

Debut album -- when he actually had a shot at country stardom, being the next John Cougar, or both.

xhuxk, Monday, 17 January 2011 22:58 (eight years ago) link

Then again, I definitely stopped keeping up somewhere along the line, so there's plenty up there I've never heard. Have never been a fan of the guy's singing (and that's putting it mildly.)

xhuxk, Monday, 17 January 2011 22:59 (eight years ago) link

Yeah, you're either on board with his voice or you're not. Likely no middle ground there.

Dr. (Johnny Fever), Monday, 17 January 2011 23:01 (eight years ago) link

I think after the blow-outs circa The Hard Way he became a better singer; he lost range but gained in depth & nuance.

Euler, Monday, 17 January 2011 23:03 (eight years ago) link

Ha -- Well, from what I've listened to, I definitely agree with the "lost range" part.

xhuxk, Monday, 17 January 2011 23:07 (eight years ago) link

I still need to get around to hearing Townes (which I presume is a collection of Townes Van Zandt covers). Those guys really were cut from the same cloth.

Dr. (Johnny Fever), Monday, 17 January 2011 23:08 (eight years ago) link

Rolling Stone wanted me to review that one, and I actually turned the review down, because I didn't think I could be fair. Told them they shouldn't have a hard time finding a critic who liked both Earle and Townes way more than I do. (I've got scruples sometimes, see?)

xhuxk, Monday, 17 January 2011 23:10 (eight years ago) link

I guess we can talk a bit about Justin here too, since he doesn't (I don't think) have his own thread. Three albums in, and he seems to be working backwards into being a traditionalist. Nashville friends have hinted he's started dealing with some of his own demons too, but I'm not here to gossip.

Dr. (Johnny Fever), Monday, 17 January 2011 23:15 (eight years ago) link

But anyway, Harlem River Blues is probably the best of his three albums. Give it a spin if you haven't heard it.

Dr. (Johnny Fever), Monday, 17 January 2011 23:16 (eight years ago) link

I've heard two of Justin's albums but nothing really grabbed me, whereas his dad's stuff, even when it's bad, nearly always does something for me.

President Keyes, Monday, 17 January 2011 23:26 (eight years ago) link

There's a really good cover of the Mats' "Can't Hardly Wait" on his second album, if you/anyone needs a solid entry point.

Dr. (Johnny Fever), Monday, 17 January 2011 23:37 (eight years ago) link

First album followed closely by Revolution Starts Now.

john. a resident of chicago., Tuesday, 18 January 2011 00:15 (eight years ago) link

x-post I liked the 'Mats cover, and I'm inclined to like the kind of stuff Justin does, and I do like his stuff, but not as much as I like, say, Hayes Carll or the Steeldrivers (comparing to contemporaries.)

President Keyes, Tuesday, 18 January 2011 00:48 (eight years ago) link

Totally off-the cuff ranking; am prepared to change any grade rather than defend it:

Guitar Town: A
Exit 0 B
Early Tracks [never heard it; will have to pick it up
Copperhead Road A-
The Hard Way B
Train A Comin' A+
I Feel Alright A+
El Corazón A+
The Mountain C+
Transcendental Blues A
Jerusalem B+
Sidetracks C
The Revolution Starts Now C-
Washington Square Serenade C+
Townes [course incomplete]

I almost got off the bus with Revolution, which has one awesome song (F the CC, natch), a couple of OK ones, one bad but leeringly funny one (Condi, natch) and a host of terrible ones. Those three post-jail albums are unfuckwithable and Transcendental Blues is not too far behind them. But the slide was pretty quick and steep thereafter. I purposely avoided Townes based on his unutterably bad version of "Two Girls" on some comp or other. He might have a Dylan-style late period comeback but I wouldn't bet on it. Even if not, you have to give the guy props for writing more great country songs than just about anybody in the 80s and 90s.

we can only flee in abject horror from yesterday's mistakes (staggerlee), Tuesday, 18 January 2011 03:20 (eight years ago) link

I am glad that Transcendental Blues does so well critically. I know only a little about Steve Earle and only have a cpouple of his discs but I somehow wound up with TB - it probably came out at a point where I was getting a lot of free shit from atypical sources - but I love that record. Have to break it out again.

NYCNative, Tuesday, 18 January 2011 04:10 (eight years ago) link

There's a really good cover of the Mats' "Can't Hardly Wait" on his second album, if you/anyone needs a solid entry point.

― Dr. (Johnny Fever), Monday, January 17, 2011 11:37 PM (Yesterday) Bookmark

haha the other day a friend of mine who, like me, stumbled backwards into this stuff via alt country, texted me--"i just found out my favorite justin townes song is a replacements song!!!"

aka the pope (BIG HOOS aka the steendriver), Tuesday, 18 January 2011 04:22 (eight years ago) link

obviously i have not done my duty as a friend if she didn't already know this, but i was name dropping the mats the night i met her so you can't say i didn't try

aka the pope (BIG HOOS aka the steendriver), Tuesday, 18 January 2011 04:23 (eight years ago) link

oh and all that said, i've only just started getting into steve in these last couple of weeks--started with townes and it is a helluva starting point: he really does the songs justice and gives em some interesting readings too, turns 'lungs' into a scuzzy foggy daniel lanois kinda thing (with tom morello doing wheedly turntable noises on a breakdown, i shit you not), and makes 'white freightliner blues' a straight up bluegrass thing and does a nice sober 'pancho & lefty' too.

aka the pope (BIG HOOS aka the steendriver), Tuesday, 18 January 2011 04:26 (eight years ago) link

Cool, I'm gonna grab Townes and give it a spin.

Dr. (Johnny Fever), Tuesday, 18 January 2011 04:28 (eight years ago) link

Train a comin/ I feel alright/copperhead road are my three faves

I went through a Steve Earle Phase in 2000 or so and it kept me company.

ergonomically chromium plated fish slice (La Lechera), Tuesday, 18 January 2011 04:30 (eight years ago) link

i always feel like it helps me to approach an artist as they do songs i already know, its like getting they're recounting their memory of a movie we've both seen and the details he remembers and emphasizes are gonna be different from mine and what does that say about his concerns and focuses and interests and how does that contribute to my understanding of the thing he's interpreting and whatever

aka the pope (BIG HOOS aka the steendriver), Tuesday, 18 January 2011 04:34 (eight years ago) link

/lorax

aka the pope (BIG HOOS aka the steendriver), Tuesday, 18 January 2011 04:34 (eight years ago) link

Automatic thread bump. This poll is closing tomorrow.

System, Monday, 24 January 2011 00:01 (eight years ago) link

Automatic thread bump. This poll's results are now in.

System, Tuesday, 25 January 2011 00:01 (eight years ago) link

Only one vote for my fave... It was mine, I assume. :)

NYCNative, Tuesday, 25 January 2011 08:02 (eight years ago) link

The "Train a Comin"/"I Feel Alright" double was like Earle's chance to release a first album all over again, twice. Not that they sound anything at all like "Guitar Town," but they have this real debut album all-my-good-ideas-at-once excitement/vibrancy. "I Feel Alright" does, at least. Actually, "Train a Comin" would have made a perfect *last* album, had Earle's fortunes not turned. Anyone else read his bio? Some hard, hard stuff. Like scoring crack still in his hospital gown after post DUI discharge, or smoking a crack pipe while Jehovah's Witnesses preach at his door. The story of his redemptive recording session with Emmylou Harris, doing "Goodbye" for her "Wrecking Ball," is truly heartwarming. She's one of a handful of Nashville folk that really stood by his side and supported him after he hit rock bottom. Speaking of which, I interviewed him once, and he noted how he not only talks to his N.A. sponsor every day, but sometimes several times a day!

Anyway, I lost track of Earle around Jerusalem, but I did once see him reduce Nanci Griffith to tears with "Christmas in Washington."

Re: Justin, that guy has hardly just recently been battling his own demons. It's a shame nature and nurture both predispose him toward self-destruction, but I understand the guy's been in and out of rehab for years.

Josh in Chicago, Tuesday, 25 January 2011 12:35 (eight years ago) link

Not enough participation; not enough love all 'round.

we can only flee in abject horror from yesterday's mistakes (staggerlee), Tuesday, 25 January 2011 16:07 (eight years ago) link

three weeks pass...

i just found the track Transcendental Blues on an old cmj.
not sure why i didn't give it any thought ten years ago - but i am fucking loving this song.

got electrolytes (The Cursed Return of the Dastardly Thermo Thinwall), Monday, 21 February 2011 03:10 (eight years ago) link

Great song on a great album.

NYCNative, Monday, 21 February 2011 07:17 (eight years ago) link

ya, i guess i should check out the rest!

got electrolytes (The Cursed Return of the Dastardly Thermo Thinwall), Monday, 21 February 2011 07:39 (eight years ago) link

Missed the poll. Would have given El Corazon a vote. It was the first one I heard and I never heard a better one.

that's not my post, Monday, 21 February 2011 23:34 (eight years ago) link

two months pass...

so I just finally got Copperhead Road and really really like it, and his voice I feel oddly fits the music. wehre would I be best off goign next, album wise?

BIG YNGWIE aka the malmsteendriver (Neanderthal), Saturday, 7 May 2011 18:49 (eight years ago) link

Transcendental Blues

Johnny Fever, Saturday, 7 May 2011 18:56 (eight years ago) link

or I Feel Alright

If Assholes Could Fly This Place Would Be An Airport, Saturday, 7 May 2011 21:13 (eight years ago) link

anyone seen earle solo? doing a free instore tmrw and i'm tryin to figure out whether to head across town and squeeze in for some standing room or just throw hoops down the street

bear, bear, bear, Saturday, 7 May 2011 23:01 (eight years ago) link

five years pass...

I never really gave this guy a chance but something about this recent duo record with Shawn Colvin is getting to me. Like the way their voices harmonize, particularly on "You Were On My Mind," which was the first thing I heard.

Berberian Begins at Home (James Redd and the Blecchs), Saturday, 1 October 2016 16:09 (three years ago) link

And I see that the ever-reliable ilxor dow is on the case: Rolling Country 2016

Berberian Begins at Home (James Redd and the Blecchs), Saturday, 1 October 2016 16:14 (three years ago) link

two years pass...

re-watched the wire over the last couple months and thought i needed to check out steve earle's music. just settled on transcandental blues, im halfway through and this sounds like a masterpiece what have i been missing.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JS0yWYkT8PU

It doesn't get any lonelier than this
And there's no place I can go
Just the dusty corners that the shadows know
Maybe this is as good as it's gonna get
And I'll always be this way
I'll just wander this world callin' out your name
It doesn't get any lonelier than this

:/

marcos smart (Spottie), Monday, 7 January 2019 23:09 (nine months ago) link

Listen to Train a Comin and I Feel Alright. And Guitar Town. The first one has Goodbye on it, which may be his best song. The second two are his masterpieces imo.

Josh in Chicago, Monday, 7 January 2019 23:33 (nine months ago) link

I kinda poked around before settling on TB, the production on it stood out to me so it immediately grabbed me. I'll go back to I feel Alright next I think.

marcos smart (Spottie), Monday, 7 January 2019 23:36 (nine months ago) link

Lonelier Than This is my go to moping song

Johnny Fever, Tuesday, 8 January 2019 00:28 (nine months ago) link

i think i just listened to it like 12 times in a row and im in a good mood!

marcos smart (Spottie), Tuesday, 8 January 2019 00:33 (nine months ago) link

really loving all of those albums thanks JiC. Still holding Transcendental Blues in the top spot tho.

Guitar Town maybe a little less at first but mostly due to production. then i noticed on spotify they have the 30th ann edition and it sounds much more full.

i def like those other albums more tho.

Going to listen to El Corazon next, and then Copperhead Road.

marcos smart (Spottie), Wednesday, 9 January 2019 17:19 (nine months ago) link

Guitar Town has a lot of Tom Petty sound to it idk

marcos smart (Spottie), Wednesday, 9 January 2019 17:22 (nine months ago) link

my frame of reference on stuff like this is limited, mind.

marcos smart (Spottie), Wednesday, 9 January 2019 17:23 (nine months ago) link

El Corazon and Transcendental Blues are my two favorites (by a pretty good distance) but you really can't go wrong with any of his first 5 post-prison albums (Train -> TB, and including The Mountain). the dude got an incredible roll.

you can skip from Jerusalem on, however...

alpine static, Wednesday, 9 January 2019 17:31 (nine months ago) link

got *on* an incredible roll.

alpine static, Wednesday, 9 January 2019 17:32 (nine months ago) link

Transcendental Blues was my first Steve Earle iirc, Copperhead Road second favorite. Johnny Come Lately with the Pogues is so fun even if I can barely remember a time when I listened to it regularly. Time flies!!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xVaPwdgezWI

weird woman in a bar (La Lechera), Wednesday, 9 January 2019 17:48 (nine months ago) link

Train a Comin -- forgot about that one! Ben McCulloch is so good. I Feel Alright is great too!!
I was sitting here struggling to remember the name of the song Hardcore Troubadour. He has so many good songs!

this live from the '80s rendition of Devil's Right Hand!!!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dS2LIHBRotE

weird woman in a bar (La Lechera), Wednesday, 9 January 2019 17:55 (nine months ago) link

Earle has cited Born in the USA as the main inspiration for Guitar Town, and it's interesting to listen to it through that lens.

Josh in Chicago, Wednesday, 9 January 2019 17:57 (nine months ago) link

look at him in that video!!!
the band even sounds like the e street band

weird woman in a bar (La Lechera), Wednesday, 9 January 2019 18:00 (nine months ago) link

Earle has cited Born in the USA as the main inspiration for Guitar Town, and it's interesting to listen to it through that lens.

― Josh in Chicago, Wednesday, January 9, 2019 10:57 AM (thirteen minutes ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

yeah this makes sense.

watching this whole austin concert now thx LL

marcos smart (Spottie), Wednesday, 9 January 2019 18:11 (nine months ago) link

Guitar Town>I Feel Alright>Exit 0>Train A Comin>Copperhead Road>everything else

Blues Guitar Solo Heatmap (Free Download) (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Wednesday, 9 January 2019 18:23 (nine months ago) link

I Feel Alright is probably one of the best comeback albums ever

Blues Guitar Solo Heatmap (Free Download) (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Wednesday, 9 January 2019 18:23 (nine months ago) link

whoa whoa whoa dude where is transcendental blues on your list!

marcos smart (Spottie), Wednesday, 9 January 2019 18:27 (nine months ago) link

ums obviously likes his Earle more hardcore troubadour than zen folkie

alpine static, Wednesday, 9 January 2019 19:29 (nine months ago) link

yeah I like him within generally the country genre more than being adventurous, will admit that i have not heard transcendental blues in a very very long time

Blues Guitar Solo Heatmap (Free Download) (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Wednesday, 9 January 2019 19:48 (nine months ago) link

He told a funny story about Springsteen coming to see him c. "Guitar Town." Earle reacted by covering "State Trooper," and supposedly Bruce went up to him and just said "that was pretty ballsy."

Josh in Chicago, Wednesday, 9 January 2019 20:12 (nine months ago) link

"I Feel Alright" has one of my all-time favorite badass lines: "Be careful what you wish for friend/'Cause I've been to hell and now I'm back again."

Josh in Chicago, Wednesday, 9 January 2019 20:14 (nine months ago) link

Steve Earle has always been super ballsy <3 sometimes to his detriment, I'm sure

weird woman in a bar (La Lechera), Wednesday, 9 January 2019 20:18 (nine months ago) link

I love the production on I Feel Alright , taking the sound of “Honky Tonk Women” to further extremes. “Hard Core Troubadour” is the apex, how the guitar strings snap, like a leashed dog snapping at you. “Poor Boy” is a close second, but while the sound is still sticky the song’s more Liverpool.

I was really into this guy back in the day. I lost faith with the cornier numbers on El Corazón (“Poison Lovers” eg) but I should revisit it all now that twenty years have passed.

L'assie (Euler), Wednesday, 9 January 2019 20:44 (nine months ago) link

I was a big fan during the I Feel Alright through Transcendental Blues run, and then my attention flagged after that. The few times I've checked in on him in the years since--his much ballyhooed John Walker Lindh song, the Townes Van Zandt covers record--I thought he sounded generally exhausted, but as a human being, in his post-recovery years, he has to be one of the most laudable musicians we have (I usually hesitate to say things like this, as they are inevitably to be followed by news of some indefensible quote or incident that I missed, but in his case, knowing what I know about his integrity and activism, I feel pretty secure).

My fave song of his (if pressed to chose one):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qbi2rMQveHo

Timothée Charalambides (cryptosicko), Thursday, 10 January 2019 02:15 (nine months ago) link

I always sort of forget that Earle was once played on Country radio. I remember him telling a story (in the book Rednecks and Bluenecks) about a drunken Ronnie Dunn (from Brooks & Dunn) yelling at him about Sharia Law at a party.

We were never Breeting Borting (President Keyes), Thursday, 10 January 2019 15:03 (nine months ago) link

last night i played some steve earle songs just for fun and 1) wow those songs are fun to play 2) they are easy 3) in the event that steve earle wants to try something new and loud, how about a crazy horse-style extended jam scenario (trancendental blues made me think this was a good idea -- i haven't listened to that song in probably a decade but man it is so good!! the drums sound a little canned at first but we can fix that in our jam scenario)

weird woman in a bar (La Lechera), Thursday, 10 January 2019 15:36 (nine months ago) link

As far as perfectly constructed songs go--nothing missing, no room for any additions--The Devil's Right Hand is way up there. Lyrically, melodically airtight.

Johnny Fever, Thursday, 10 January 2019 17:22 (nine months ago) link

I think that's key. The relative simplicity of Earle's music really underscores that idea of The Songwriter. It's his lyrics and melodies that sell the songs, save the occasional iconic lick like the one in "Guitar Town."

I've told it before, probably, but I once sat in on a series of classes he taught at the Old Town School of Folk Music. The first was on Woody Guthrie. The second was on Dylan, including what he took from Woody. The third was on Springsteen and what he took from Dylan. The last was on Earle and what he took from all of them.

Josh in Chicago, Thursday, 10 January 2019 17:38 (nine months ago) link

Hey, check it out!

http://insurgentcountry.net/steve_earle_at_the_old_town_school.htm

Josh in Chicago, Thursday, 10 January 2019 17:39 (nine months ago) link


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