Thursday, September 4, 2008

A To Z: T - Texas Cookin' by Guy Clark

This record is basically the result of all the best country singers and writers of the early 70s getting drunk one day, playing some games, eating some food and then going "hey lets make a record"

I love Guy Clark (though I only have 4 of his albums), and though this record isn't quite as good as his first album, it is definitely more country. It's a blast, throwing in more fun songs than most of his other recorded work. His songs are still clever and well written, and the help he receives by people like Emmylou Harris, Waylon Jennings and Hoyt Axton (to name only a few) is great.

On the new Rodney Crowell album (which is excellent), he sings about his love for Guy Clark, and there is a reason. Guy Clark is an underrated gem of great song writing, one that who will probably NEVER get his due, though will remain respected and revered by the correct circles for years.

Guy Clark's sophomore effort sounds more like a party of friends who got together to pick together on a Saturday night that it does a sensitive singer/songwriter outing. Essentially that's what it is, coming as it did in 1975 at the height of the outlaw movement fever. Recorded at Chips Moman's American Studios in Nash Vegas, there is no producer listed on the set, so you can assume Clark did it himself with the aid of his many compadres here, who include but are not limited to Emmylou Harris, Susanna Clark, Johnny Gimble, Jerry Jeff Walker, Hoyt Axton, Waylon Jennings, Tracy Nelson, Brian Ahern, Mickey Raphael, Rodney Crowell, David Briggs, and Chip Young. Songwise, Clark's on a roll here; first there's the wooly party tune, "Texas Cookin'," that celebrates the Lone Star State's particular ability to make their food taste good with beer, and then there's the stunning "Anyhow I Love You," with Emmylou, Waylon, and Crowell accompanying Clark as a chorus. Jennings' harmony singing here is the best he did in his career. There's the mid-tempo "Good to Love You Lady" with Walker, Axton, Crowell, and Harris singing in a smoky contralto, an honest to goodness country song, baring its fiddles, pedal steel, and a trio of acoustic guitars to carry those rough and sweet voices through the story. And while the up-tempo tunes here are wondrously raucous fare, Clark's strength as a ballad writer is almost unequaled among his peers. Nowhere is this more evident than on "Broken Hearted People" (since retitled for the refrain, "Take Me to a Barroom"). Clark's version of the song lacks any sentimentality. He is one of the tune's subjects; his resignation is to spend his mourning days on a barstool after discovering a lover's faithlessness, but he's already wasted and can't even get there under his own power. His devastation is only eclipsed by his desperation: "Take me to a barroom driver/Set me on a stool/If I can't be her man, I'm damned/If I'll be her fool." In addition, Clark's "The Last Gunfighter Ballad" is a signature song, like his "Randall Knife" or "Desperadoes Waiting for a Train." It's a song; it's a story; it's a movie with acoustic guitars a bass, a cello, finger cymbals, and Waylon. Chilling, stirring, and unforgettable, just like the album itself. - Thom Jurek, Allmusicguide

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