STEVE EARLE AND THE DUKES
NEW WEST RECORDS NW 6328
BABY BABY BABY (BABY)–YOU’RE THE BEST LOVER THAT I EVER HAD–THE TENNESSEE KID–AIN’T NOBODY’S DADDY NOW–BETTER OFF ALONE–THE USUAL TIME–GO GO BOOTS ARE BACK–ACQUAINTED WITH THE WIND–BABY’S JUST AS MEAN AS ME–GAMBLIN BLUES–KING OF THE BLUES
It’s hard to fathom the near thirty-year passge of time since Steve Earle’s debut, “Guitar Town.” Since that time, he’s won multiple Grammys and has become one of the most respected roots-rock and Americana artists on the scene today. In his own words, it was only a matter of time before he made a blues album, and “Terraplane” is the amazing result. Steve captures the spirit of Mance Lipscomb, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Jimmy Reed, and even some early-era Stones, and dedicates this album to the late Johnny Winter. This set was produced by R. S. Field, and recorded at Nashville’s House Of Blues Studio D.
Steve wrote roughly one-third of this album while touring Europe with only a guitar, harp, and a backpack. As such, the arrangements are predominantly sparse, with Steve on vocals, harp mandolin, and guitar, Chris Masterson on guitar, Eleanor Whitmore on fiddle, Kelly Loone on bass, and Will Rigby on drums.
The party starts with the loping beat of “Baby Baby Baby (Baby),” a cool tale ’bout a girl down South, “from a town called Shut My Mouth.” Eleanor’s fiddle is the perfect complement to Steve’s fingerpicking on the lively country-blues of “Ain’t Nobody’s Daddy Now.” Steve captures that early-Stones vibe in “Better Off Alone,” while a late-night booty call finds Steve waiting for that “Usual Time of the night,” with its Buster Brown-meets-Jimmy Reed backbeat. Steve breaks out his eight-string for the stop-tme of “a travelin’ man” who’s always been “Acquainted With The Wind.” The set closes with the mojo-licious tale of a man who’s the “direct descendant of John The Conqueroo,” “The King Of The Blues.”
We had three favorites, too. Steve and Eleanor duet in another country-blues tale of two lovers whose passion thrives on ‘fussin’ and fightin,” “My Baby’s Just As Mean As Me.” An adolescent’s memory of his sister’s choice of footwear conjures up the rockin’ “Go Go Boots Are Back,” while the haunting “Tennessee Kid” invokes Beelzebub and those deals down at the Crossroads, wheer we all know “the balance comes due someday.”
Steve Earle also states in the liner notes to “Terraplane” that the blues are the one thing we all have at one time or another. This set also captures the spirit of his fellow Texas bluesmen, as well as delving deeper into the endless wellspring of great songwriting that has been Steve’s penchant throughout his timeless career. Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.