Release Date: Jul 17, 2012
Record label: Smith Music Group
When it comes to the vast majority of recording artists, the answer to the question, "how many officially released live albums do I really need," carries a simple answer: zero to one. In Billy Joe Shaver's case, the question doesn't even apply. Really, just ask any fan. Though far from a household name, Shaver is revered internationally for a catalog of songs that has been covered by an astonishing array of other artists, from rockers to country artists to jazz musicians and soul singers, though none of the cover versions of his songs do justice to his own live performances.
Like that more famous self-proclaimed Jewboy Kinky Friedman, I too claim Billy Joe Shaver as my spiritual advisor. While Friedman and Shaver are good Texas buddies, I get my inspiration solely from Shaver’s music. I did meet the man once after a show. He ended his performance with the line, “And if you don’t love Jesus, you can go to Hell.” So I went up to him and said, “I don’t love Jesus, and I am probably going to Hell, but I love your music.” He glared at me for a minute, spied the Star of David hanging around my neck, and grabbed my head in a headlock and said.
There are plenty of Billy Joe Shaver concert albums already on the market (1995’s Unshaven:Live at Smith’s Olde Bar is particularly notable) but no new music since 2007’s heavily spiritual “Everybody’s Brother. ” There has been a lot of water under Shaver’s weather-beaten bridge since, including that nasty dust-up in Waco (now immortalized by “Wacko from Waco,” one of two solid new studio tracks tacked onto the end of this disc) and various health issues. But this CD/DVD combo, recorded in September 2011, shows the 73-year-old Shaver still has plenty of gas left in his tank.
The last dozen years of Billy Joe Shaver's life can be described as an unpredictable horse opera. This CD/DVD set ties a glittering bow on his past, offering proof he's not only survived, but that now, into his 70s, Shaver continues to thrive. Other live Shaver discs are available, but the DVD here offers a hi-def view of his commanding stage presence.