Steve Earle – Uncut Gems

Basically Early Tracks Part Two: Longer and Less Charming. Twenty songs, and all but one of them are totally forgettable! And that one shows up a few albums later, so whatever. Unless you really need a bunch of rockabilly standards, some of them sung by somebody else, and early versions of a few album tracks. Yes, “No. 29” was just as slow as a demo, and the protagonist’s “back in high school I used to play football, sonny” ramble isn’t any more deserving of sympathy, and no, “My Old Friend the Blues” was not better when it had drums kick in.

Makes me wonder, anyway, to what extent they were scraping the barrel here. I’m not going to spend too much time on it. Evidently Early Steve spent all of his spare time recording very basic songs that do nothing more than state a title, “She’s So Mean” or “You Tear Me Up” or the similarly titled “Hot Enough For Ya” and “Heatin’ Up”. The aforementioned interesting song, “Tom Ames’ Prayer” is pretty crackin’ acoustic and good, but it shows up in very similar form on the next album. Wouldn’t you rather just have that instead? I think so. And where are all the “honky tonk” bars anyway? I’ve never seen one, nor a “roadhouse” or a “juke joint.” They sound like fun. I guess they went out of business to make room for Burger Kings.

4 / 10

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