Release Date: Jun 25, 2013
Record label: Shout! Factory
Genre(s): Country, Folk, Alt-Country, Americana, Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Contemporary Singer/Songwriter, Alternative Country-Rock, Roots Rock, Contemporary Country, New Traditionalist, Progressive Country, Political Folk, Heartland Rock, Protest Songs
In his brief intro to this collection, Steve Earle makes one point: that his creativity in recovery is far greater than it was in the throes of addiction. He writes, "I've done way more shit sober than I did fucked up...There are people who would argue that my early albums, Guitar Town and Copperhead Road are better records than Train a Comin' and El Corazón but they're wrong...." Writer/director/colleague David Simon (Homicide, The Wire, Treme) makes a far longer, more detailed, and personal case for the same thing in his lengthy liner essay. The truth is that Earle's right; the three studio albums collected from his tenure with Warner Bros.
Steve EarleThe Warner Bros. Years(Shout! Factory)Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars Even more legendary than Steve Earle’s drug problems is his sobriety. After several years wasted on heroin, he was arrested for possession and a weapons charge, missed his court date and was sentenced to a year in the clink and rehab. It seemed like the sad last act of a talented guy who’d been attending Nashville song pulls since before he could drink (legally, at least) and who’d made one of Nashville’s best debuts, Guitar Town, in 1986.
Open the liner notes booklet to Steve Earle’s boxset The Warner Bros. Years – which covers roughly 1995-1997 – turn a couple pages and you meet a glossy, stylized photo of … David Simon, creator of the television shows The Wire and Treme. It’s odd, but it’s part of the set’s general slant: that the three albums Earle made during this period were made by someone who went through dark periods of his life and made it out a better person and better songwriter.
In a very real way, a re-release of Steve Earle’s three, and key, albums for Warner Bros. makes perfect sense. Coming on the heels of his release from prison where he had been sentenced for heroin abuse, they were comeback attempts of sorts after the twin promise of Guitar Town and Copperhead Road, two albums that delivered him to the fringes of sudden success.