Album: Steve Earle

Live From Austin TX, NEW WEST
Click to follow
The Independent Culture

He's country music's left-wing conscience now, but back in 1986, when this concert was first broadcast, Steve Earle was still a young(ish) kid with a rebel spirit and great songs, shaking things up with his Guitar Town debut. It's a fine show, with Earle's band at their kick-ass sharpest, and the singer's attitude best expressed in "Fearless Heart": "You can either get through life or you can live it, and if you want to live it, there's only two things you need - an inquisitive mind and a fearless heart". As his garb of white T-shirt and blue jeans suggests, Earle's role model was Springsteen, whose influence looms large: the piano ostinatos of "Goodbye's All We Got Left" are pure E St Band street-symphony, and lines like "I left the service, got a GI loan/ I got married, bought myself a home/ Now I hang around this one-horse town, do the best I can" could be straight off Born in the USA. But there's more to Earle: on "Hillbilly Highway" he assumes the mantle of Hank Williams, elsewhere

He's country music's left-wing conscience now, but back in 1986, when this concert was first broadcast, Steve Earle was still a young(ish) kid with a rebel spirit and great songs, shaking things up with his Guitar Town debut. It's a fine show, with Earle's band at their kick-ass sharpest, and the singer's attitude best expressed in "Fearless Heart": "You can either get through life or you can live it, and if you want to live it, there's only two things you need - an inquisitive mind and a fearless heart". As his garb of white T-shirt and blue jeans suggests, Earle's role model was Springsteen, whose influence looms large: the piano ostinatos of "Goodbye's All We Got Left" are pure E St Band street-symphony, and lines like "I left the service, got a GI loan/ I got married, bought myself a home/ Now I hang around this one-horse town, do the best I can" could be straight off Born in the USA. But there's more to Earle: on "Hillbilly Highway" he assumes the mantle of Hank Williams, elsewhere tapping into his Texan heritage through the Buddy Holly-esque "Think It Over" and the Tex-Mex strains of "San Antonio Girl". But one wonders what the Earle of today would make of his younger self on "Sweet Little '66": "Now she ain't too good on gasoline, she burns a little oil/ But she was built by union labour on American soil" - so, not just protectionist, but environmentally unsound, too?

Comments