268. Steve Earle – “Copperhead Road”

I originally owned this album on cassette. Now, kiddies, these little plastic things had half the songs on one side, and then you turned them over and listened to the other side.

If you didn’t like the other side, you could just rewind and listen to your favoured side again.

That happened a lot with this album. I can’t think of an album with a bigger disparity between sides.

Side A is outstanding. It kicks off with the rollicking title track – one of my ‘go to’ karoake tunes – a tale of booze- and drug-running. The pounding drums and the country-rock rebel imagery has guaranteed Earle a hairy, bikey following ever since.

The pace keeps up with Snake Oil, the full-band version of Devil’s Right Hand, and The Pogues-backed Johnny Come Lately. The latter is a wonderful gelling of the Celtic and Southern, and a great tale. Here it is being recorded:

And the track:

So, at this stage we’re talking Top 10 spot on my rankings for sure. Then you turn it over, and Steve’s gone all soft and maudlin, with fluffy ballads, and a bizarre (but not in a cool way) Xmas carol! The bikers (and me) are not happy…

At least they put all the great tracks together.

File under: Side A excites, Side B bites

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