• Tue. Jul 16th, 2024

Steve Earle

ByFraser Mackay

Sep 23, 2014
Image: bigskypress.com

Down at the Club provides a rare insight into a period when Steve Earle was at the peak of his popularity. The material also offers the listener an insight into the personal and political messages that his lyrics convey.

In December 1988, shortly before the release of his most critically acclaimed album Copperhead Road, Steve Earle and his band The Dukes played a gig at the Cotton Club in Atlanta.

This CD is the complete radio broadcast of that performance.

The hum of the harmonica, almost drowned out by the crowd, opens up to the classic track “Copperhead Road”. Throughout Steve Earle’s career he has alternated between country, folk, rock, and rockabilly. In an interview with Boston Globe in 1988 Earle states “I’ve heard ‘Copperhead Road,’ has become the number No.10 rock track, for example. But I really hope the country stations also pick up on it.” As it turned out he was swiftly dropped from country airplay.

The first half of the album maintains this fast rocking pace, and is dominated by acoustic guitars, rustic sounding percussion, and a heavy hearted voice delivering political messages.

This is heard in the introduction to ‘Nothing but a Child’, where Earle states “a lot of people on the street and no matter what you political orientation is…there’s no way you can blame it on the kids.” This song develops into a poetic folk song, the fiddle providing a peaceful backdrop for Earle’s moving lyrics.

As the album progresses it is predominantly at a slowed melodic rhythm with love songs such as; ‘Waiting for You’, ‘You Belong To Me’, and ‘It’s All Up To You’. The tenderness of the latter part of the album highlights Earle’s poetic lyrics and provides a softer approach to his personal messages.

Down At The Club is a powerful and varied album which provides the listener with an understanding of Earle’s crossing from country to rock and blues.

It gives an interesting insight into the start of Earle’s protest records which were to follow.

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