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From the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.

Guitar Town

Steve Earle

1986

Guitar Town
Album Summary

Guitar Town is the debut album from singer-songwriter Steve Earle, released on March 5, 1986. It topped the Billboard country album charts, and the title song reached #7 on the country singles charts. Earle was also nominated for two 1987 Grammy Awards, Best Male Country Vocalist and Best Country Song, for the title track.

Wikipedia

Rating

2.83

Votes

11188

Genres

  • Country
  • Folk
  • Rock
  • Singer Songwriter

Reviews

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Fri Jan 06 2023
1

If the first 10 seconds are any indication of what this is (overproduced cornball country music) I am in for a very long 40 minutes. He's already said "Hey Pretty Baby" as I typed that last sentence. This is only the third album to make me regret my personal rule that I listen to EVERY song*. Hillbilly Highway? Seriously. Do you want more tassels on your sleeves you line dance cliche knobend? There are a couple of more tolerable songs towards the end - a ballad about his kid and an old style rock and roller - but this is relative to the otherwise dreadful stuff either side of it. Avoid * Only broken once, for post 2000 U2. That was for my own mental health.

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Thu Apr 08 2021
4

Good ol country rock shit. My type of vibe on a nice spring day with the wind in your hair. Prob good for a road trip or riding ur motorcycle to clear your head

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Thu Apr 15 2021
4

If all country was like this, you could count me as a country fan.

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Fri Jul 02 2021
4

Top-notch country rock, at turns tender and loud. Always sincere, with the icons of the genre at the fore.

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Sun Jun 20 2021
4

well, it certainly doesn't sound like anything i remember from 1985. i really like how out-of-time it is, in fact.

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Sun Jun 27 2021
4

I was hoping for some Copperhead Road. But still enjoyed this immensely. Amazingly consistent all the way through, probably close to as good as it gets for newer country music (and this is from the '80's). Added bonus: the songs Spotify played after the album ended were mainly gems, including some Steve Earle (and yes, the first song played was Copperhead Road, so it was almost like it was on the album). Double Bonus: great live cover of Springsteen's "State Trooper". Went on a Steve Earle deep dive after this. Enjoy!

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Fri Jan 19 2024
1

If you played this album for me and told me it was a parody of country music, I probably would believe you. Its so cornball its like its making fun of itself. The only redemption is that Steve sounds a little bit like Springsteen, but its not enough to get the album to 2 stars. 1/5

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Fri Oct 22 2021
3

Maybe not more than the sum of its cliches, but Earle rides the peak of the Springsteenism wave with such warmth and range that the sum is pretty decent on its own.

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Fri Mar 12 2021
5

Well after these 3 amazing records in a row I’m totally expecting Kid Rock next.

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Fri Mar 12 2021
5

Love Steve, sad about JT still

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Fri Apr 16 2021
4

better than I thought, never heard of him before - he is country, but not pop nor is it willie nelson - I was pleasantly surprised

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Sun Jan 31 2021
2

Off the bat, sounds like Springsteen. Meh...

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Fri Mar 12 2021
5

Right on the cusp of alt-folk and alt-country. Love it.

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Wed Sep 28 2022
5

Unfairly categorized as country, but this is straight Americana - equal parts folk, country, and rock & roll. One of the best albums of its kind, and Steve is one of the great songwriters of the American experience. Amazing songs. Great record.

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Sun Oct 10 2021
3

Liked this more than I thought I would.

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Thu Apr 04 2024
3

It’s corny, but not entirely charmless. A little hard to rate - it’s not something I’ll listen to again, but relative to other country albums, it’s fine. Solidly middle of the road.

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Fri May 28 2021
5

A god damn classic. "I got a 2-pack habit and a motel tan" is one of the greatest lines in a song.

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Thu Sep 30 2021
5

I’ve always liked Steve Earle, although haven’t listened to a lot of his music. Time to remedy that a bit… I’ve always been a big fan of truckin’ songs. “Guitar Town” is a really fine specimen of this genre. Steel belts, truck stops, boots and motels? All to a rockin’ country arrangement? Count me in! We’re off to a great start. Clearly Steve Earle knows his hay around a good hook. “Goodbye’s All We Got Left” is such a great sounding song it makes me wish he was breaking up with me. Spoiler alert: at this point I hit add to add this album to my library. It’ll take a real surprising disaster to derail this. “Hillbilly Highway” is a simple but very compelling seemingly autobiographical song about a musician and the choices we make in life. just a straightforward great song. “Good Ol’ Boy (Gettin’ Tough)” has lyrics as compelling today as in 1986. We are seeing what 35 years of where exacerbating inequality in the land of plenty gets us. Maybe this song should have been a little angrier and more demanding back then... Loved “My Old Friend The Blues.” This song would have come in handy over the last few years. I’m sure it will again soon. “Someday” is another great song about not getting by in America. Again, a perfect sentiment in 1986 that sadly makes me wonder if we will ever progress… “Think It Over” is a sweet little breakup song that you can dance to. “Fearless Heart” is a really sweet love song with very clever lyrics and a great arrangement. Couldn’t ask for more… “Little Rock ‘n’ Roller” is a touching song. Full of those hopes and promises that likely will never quite come true. Sort of a country “Cats in the Cradle”. I’m fine with a little too much sap these days. “Down The Road” is that classic ‘keep on keeping on’ advice to those who can’t find love. A classic ending to a classic country album. What a great debut album! Definitely see why it’s on this list. Listened to it 3 times already and expect it to be in heavy rotation for a while.

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Fri Oct 29 2021
5

This is good songwriting, and not pandering BS. Music and hooks are catchy. Lyrics are hard hitting, but still are down to earth and relatable. Highlight tracks: 2, 3, 4, 6

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Fri Oct 29 2021
5

Just a great album. Great vocals, lyrics and who doesn't love pedal steel guitar

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Sun Dec 05 2021
5

A great countryrock album. I had not listened to it for quite a couple of years. It is still perfect in every sense.

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Fri Dec 17 2021
5

Guitar town Hillbilly highway Good old friend the blues

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Thu Dec 23 2021
5

Love it. I'm not a huge C&W fan but great songwriting is great songwriting.

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Fri Dec 31 2021
5

Maybe it's because I hadn't had a country album after 70 albums on this site. Maybe it's because it's barely half an hour of music and I could start a new album. Maybe it's because it's genuinely good. Maybe - definitely - it's all three. Added.

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Wed Jul 20 2022
5

Good ole boy country I can properly get behind. Sincerely written, masterfully played, limited references to his beer cans and maximum references to his highway chewing 8 cylinder and gheetar.

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Fri Aug 12 2022
5

As primeiras músicas do disco todas são boas de ouvir. Goog Ol' Boy é muito boa! My Old Friend também.

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Fri Nov 18 2022
5

This is a stunning debut album.

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Thu Dec 29 2022
5

This is such a good album every song is rife with hooks and melodies and singable lyrics. Stories that are relateable with interesting, colourful characters. Themes are familiar; loneliness, boredom, hope, the myth of the American dream. The songs are delivered with simplicity and a rock and roll toughness that shows us what's to come. One of my favorite country albums and deserving of a 5 star rating.

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Fri Mar 17 2023
5

Goldschool country. One of the best country albums ive heard

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Sun Apr 23 2023
5

Excepcional! A beautiful and unique album!

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Thu Jun 29 2023
5

Steve Earle is terrific - respects the heritage but pushes country into new territory; no facile, cookie cutter country tracks here. And, in any case, Earle is just a fine singer-songwriter.

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Fri Jun 30 2023
5

A perfect blend of songwriting and delivery that brings straight ahead country with a nice blend of 80’s heartland rock.

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Thu Jul 06 2023
5

Galet tunn linje han vandrar men gör det ju strålande.

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Fri Aug 11 2023
5

1986 was a key year for country. This is one of the key albums. Finally a must listen album. Earles brand of country was harsh, brutal, gentle, raucous and fun.

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Fri Sep 22 2023
5

Yet another prolific songwriter for this week's listening. Have we had a better full week of albums so far? I'm having trouble keeping up this week because i just wanna keep re-listening! Anyways... This is one of the great Texas Country Albums, which automatically makes it top tier among country albums, because as we all know, Texas Country > nashville/pop country. There really isn't a bad song on this record. It bristles with small-town angst and i love it for it. makes me wanna out the petal down and point it west, with nothing but the wind in my hair and dozens of great hooks to guide my way, so to speak.

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Sun Dec 24 2023
5

Lyrics: Steve Earle's lyrical prowess shines through in "Guitar Town." The album's storytelling is a testament to his ability to capture the essence of American life, particularly that of the working class. The lyrics are vivid and evocative, painting pictures of small-town struggles, dreams, and the pursuit of a better life. Earle's narratives are often deeply personal, reflecting his own experiences and observations. His songwriting is rich in detail, offering listeners a glimpse into the lives of the characters he creates. The album's title track, "Guitar Town," encapsulates Earle's skill in crafting narrative-driven songs. It tells the story of a musician navigating the challenges of the music industry and the pursuit of fame. The lyrics convey a sense of restlessness and a desire to break free from the constraints of a mundane existence. Music: Musically, "Guitar Town" is a dynamic fusion of country, rock, and folk influences. Earle's sound is rooted in traditional country music, but he injects it with a rock 'n' roll energy that sets him apart from many of his contemporaries. The album features twangy guitar riffs, catchy melodies, and Earle's distinctive vocals, which carry a raw, authentic quality. Tracks like "Goodbye's All We've Got Left" and "Hillbilly Highway" showcase Earle's ability to craft memorable hooks and deliver them with a genuine, unpolished charm. The instrumentation is tight, featuring a mix of acoustic and electric elements that complement Earle's storytelling. Production: Produced by Emory Gordy Jr., "Guitar Town" benefits from a production style that strikes a balance between polished studio work and the earthiness that characterizes Earle's music. The album has a timeless quality, avoiding excessive production flourishes that could have dated it. The clarity of the recordings allows Earle's lyrics to take center stage while maintaining the energy of a live performance. The decision to keep the production relatively straightforward enhances the album's authenticity, aligning with Earle's commitment to storytelling and substance over style. The arrangements serve the songs well, letting the narrative and emotional resonance shine through. Themes: The overarching theme of "Guitar Town" revolves around the pursuit of dreams and the challenges faced by those striving for a better life. Earle's lyrics often explore the tension between the desire for success and the harsh realities of life. Songs like "My Old Friend the Blues" and "Someday" delve into the complexities of relationships and the emotional toll of a transient

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Wed Jan 31 2024
5

Outstanding & one of his best.

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Fri Feb 02 2024
5

Didn't know this album or any of the tracks. Pleasant surprise. Great songs.

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Thu Feb 08 2024
5

Guitar Town is one of those songs that is played at every wedding reception ever! What a fantastic tune! Steve Earle is a country rock artist from the 80's. He really gained traction with Guitar Town, then really took off with Copperhead Road. Steve is a staple of the genre, and I am happy to see him represented on this list! Favourite songs: Guitar Town, Someday, Hillbilly Highway, Good Ol' Boy (Gettin' Tough), Think It Over, Fearless Heart, Down the Road Least favourite songs: My Old Friend the Blues 5/5

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Fri Mar 15 2024
5

Short, sweet, and to the point with a nice punch. Encompasses everything I enjoy about alt country, the Heartbreakers, and Springsteen.

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Mon Apr 01 2024
5

I know every song on this album. Except for Mountain with the McCoury Brothers, this is my favorite.

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Wed May 08 2024
5

Hell to the yes. Earle is a cornerstone.

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Fri May 21 2021
4

Pretty solid country album! Obviously in love with the first track, and most of them are about on par for Steve. Some slower and less interesting songs, but a good time overall.

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Fri Feb 12 2021
4

I’d never listened to 80s country, but I liked this. I also liked the stuff that came on afterwards on Spotify.

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Fri Mar 12 2021
4

Wasn't as familiar with this as the albums that followed, but liked it a lot. That dude lived hard.

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Wed Feb 24 2021
4

Just solid working class country

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Fri Jul 02 2021
4

Scratches that exact type of country music I like. More rock than country but still a solid country twang

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Thu Jun 17 2021
4

Good stuff. I knew Guitar Town but had not listened to the entire album before.

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Thu Jul 08 2021
4

Good country music. I enjoyed it. First half was a bit better.

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Wed May 12 2021
4

I really liked this one. This is real country to me. My one criticism is I can barely hear the bass. Some songs you can’t hear it at all.

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Fri Jul 23 2021
4

Loved it. Just what I needed.

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Sun Aug 08 2021
4

Wow surprising. I like the songs and his voice.... it gets a little too twangy at times, but this is solid from start to finish. Really enjoyed Fearless Heart.

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Thu Aug 26 2021
4

I'm a SE big fan but like his folkier stuff more. I'm guessing a brother like Steve will not have multiple offerings on the 1001 list so feel I better give my overall SE ranking to this one.

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Thu Aug 26 2021
4

I'm sure Steve Earle wishes that he had the same mop of hair today, that he had 35 years ago, when he recorded his breakthrough record. At the time, he was being compared to Dwight Yoakam,for having the crossover appeal to a mainstream pop and alternative market. Some radio DJs at the time referred to him as the “Redneck Springsteen”, and his blue collar rage holds a fair amount of water here. Cars, guitars, hillbilly fun, smoking a lot of cigarettes, breaking girls hearts and living in motels are the palate in Earle's world. The title track and Someday are my two favourite tracks on the record, but the rest of the songs are all fine. My biggest complaint is the production: his fine band, the Dukes, sound thin and too far in the background for me. Still this is as fine a country record as has been made since the 60's, and well worth a spin on the Victrola.

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Thu Oct 07 2021
4

This was very good. I wouldn't go out of my way to listen again, but it was really well done.

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Sun Oct 17 2021
4

Already knew this well. Not my very favourite of SE, but perhaps pips others to the list because of its greater significance. Nevertheless a really strong album.

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Wed Nov 24 2021
4

Really good country music. Nothing more, nothing less

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Sun Dec 05 2021
4

Solid alt country rock album. Not a huge fan of Earle's vocals, but it has the heart and intensity required for this kind of music.

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Wed Dec 08 2021
4

This is probably the first country album I've listened to that I actually enjoyed. I was dismissive of the first few seconds because I'm generally not a big fan of the southern twang vocals. But as the drums, lead guitar and background keyboards rolled in, I got hooked lined and sinkered and soon embraced the twang. It's by no means perfect or consistent, but it did capture my interest and brought a few bangers along the way.

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Thu Jan 27 2022
4

Steve Earle is everything the critics think about Dwight Yoakam, only his voice is pleasant to listen to and he writes a hell of a lyric. Long live Waylon. Best track: Guitar Town

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Mon Feb 14 2022
4

All I could think about during this was Wheeler Walker Jr. Pretty interesting to see where he got his whole fucking sound from. A lot less references to sucking dicks and tits. So I guess that's okay? Little Rock n' Roller got some emotion out of me. It's a solid album.

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Tue Feb 15 2022
4

You know, this is an album that grows on you as you listen to it over time, kind of like a comfortable pair of old jeans. I've heard it before a few times here and there, but enjoyed it more this time around. I also enjoyed the album more as the songs progressed. It's a classic sound of stripped down, rock-tinged country. The songs are warm and catchy with some really earnest and engaging songwriting. It's a sound that doesn't really get old, even 30-odd years after it came out. Fave Songs: Think It Over, Someday, Goodbye's All We've Got Left, Fearless Heart, Down the Road, Little Rock 'n' Roller, My Old Friend the Blues

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Wed Apr 06 2022
4

I love this stuff unironically. 4

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Thu Apr 28 2022
4

Steve Earle's debut album and considered one of the first in the alt-country genre. I actually consider Earle's next few albums more alt-country. This one has more of a traditional country feel to it and even towards the dreaded pop-country. Each song tells a story with classic country themes: I'm down and out, a breakup song, not living up to expectations and living on the road. Two songs really stand out to me: "Guitar Town" with its great rhyming lyrics and twangy guitar and "Little Rock "N" Roller", a tear- jerker about calling up his son, Justin Townes Earle (RIP) while on the road just to talk and don't tell Mom. I can't say this is my favorite Steve Earle (that would come in a few albums) but there are some outstanding songs and overall, it is a good liste.

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Fri Aug 12 2022
4

I love Steve Earle. I don't love every song on this album but it's still a phenomenal debut.

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Mon Aug 22 2022
4

Deeply cool, thogh there would be better records later, especially Transcendental Blues, as I recall. The production is tinny and a case can be made that SE over-sings (overtwangs?) on some cuts. Still, lots of lovely moments and authenticity to spare, which more than overcomes the '80s effect. This is an obvous template of more than half (and definitely the better half) of the Americana to come.

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Wed Sep 07 2022
4

Really great stuff on here. I know a lot about his work with Lucinda Williams, so I expected greatness from the start, and greatness is what I got! Good stuff all around.

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Fri Sep 09 2022
4

3.5-4 stars - it was good, i enjoyed it more than I thought I would

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Wed Oct 12 2022
4

Fills the gap between Springsteen and Johnny Cash, which is a pleasant place to be. Musically and lyrically great, and really fun.

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Thu Oct 13 2022
4

Really enjoyed this, upbeat easy listening. Country but not annoyingly so.

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Fri Nov 04 2022
4

I don't really listen to country all that much but I quite enjoyed this

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Mon Nov 21 2022
4

Like a great road trip, whooshes by with moments of poignance, insight, kicks and chug.

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Thu Dec 01 2022
4

Quite surprised to know that this was Steve's debut album, for this feels and sounds as worn and lived out as many lives. A sign of things to come, as the saying goes. Short, sweet and solid. Favorites: Guitar Town, Goodbye's All We've Got Left, Hillbilly Highway, My Old Friend the Blues, Someday, Fearless Heart, Little Rock 'n' Roller.

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Fri Dec 09 2022
4

Very solid country rock Favorites: Guitar Town, Hillbilly Hoghway, Down The Road

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Thu Jan 05 2023
4

Excellent country rock. Great, clean production. I’m picking up Bruce vibes on a lot of these songs. “Little Rock ‘n’ Roller” is such a sweet, heartbreaking song!

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Thu Jan 12 2023
4

favorite tracks - hillbilly highway, good ol boy, fearless heart, down the road least favorite tracks - goodbyes all we got left

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Mon Jan 16 2023
4

Fantastic twangy country music

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Wed Jan 18 2023
4

Steve Earle is cool. I’d consider him “real” country music. The twang ain’t faked. The drawl is real. The reverb is awesome. There’s a clear influence on artist like Dwight Yokam and others who I’d consider the last real country artists. Great album.

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Mon Jan 30 2023
4

I like this. Sounds like unashamed American confidence of the 80s. Reminded me of Bruce Springsteen and Tom Petty. I enjoyed the instrumentals and harmonies on Down The Road.

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Thu Mar 16 2023
4

I liked it. Nice country album. 4/5

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Wed Apr 05 2023
4

Goodbye's All We Got Left to Say is good! Love the guitar in Fearless Heart Overall a pretty solid classic album that could go toe to toe with some Tom Petty or John (Cougar) Mellencamp albums.

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Mon Apr 17 2023
4

I don't usually go for country but I was surprised by this and enjoyed it

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Wed May 17 2023
4

Nice country album, seems to be a very early start to the "I got me my truck" era of country but it's a good listen

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