I bought this album on vinyl when it was first released in 1986--the same year that Dwight Yoakam debuted with Guitars, Cadilacs, Etc., Etc. While both artists used different approaches (Earle filtered his music through rock, while Yoakam leaned more toward honky-tonk and the Bakersfield sound), both artists brought an honesty and integrity to country music that had been missing from mainstream country. All tracks were written or co-written by Earle with the exception of the bonus track, a live version of Bruce Springsteen's "State Trooper." [This bonus track was originally released in 1986 on an EP and is also available on the 2-CD anthology Ain't Ever Satisifed.] Earle has put out a string of excellent albums over the years, but his debut is arguably his strongest. He's never fit in with the hat acts of the past two decades--Earle is too much of a rebel for that--but as he sings on the title track: "Hey, pretty baby are you ready for me/yeah, it's your good rockin' daddy down from Tennessee." Country radio may not have been ready, but they sure needed him. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
on March 14, 2002
Now beautifully restored to pristine analog, 'Guitar Town's' sound is warm, capturing bass lines lost in the original digital master released against Earle's wishes. Included is a seething live version of Springsteen's "State Trooper," captured during Earle's exhuberant concert at Chicago's Park West Theatre in August 1986, showcasing a young troubador ready to take on the world. To complete the package, MCA generously included some extra photos from the original Guitar Town session in downtown Nashville for this re-issue, which show just a hint of imminent trouble in Earle's eyes. Most welcome are Earle's illuminating, newly-penned liner notes, which tell of his attendance of a "Born In The USA" concert, (which inspired "Guitar Town,") and shed much-needed light on Guitar Town's genesis. Easily the most groundbreaking Nashville recording since Waylon Jennings' 1970's sessions, Guitar Town was #79 on Rolling Stone's 'Top 100 Albums of the 80's' list and was hailed by rock critics as the savior of country music. Guitar Town is a cornerstone of the mid-1980's "New Traditionalist" movement in Nashville, and continues to exert a massive influence on songwriters 16 years after it's release. Earle may never understand the full impact this recording will continue to have on future generations of songwriters, but the reappearance of this much-loved, maddeningly slow-selling Rosetta Stone of modern-day country music gives a good hint.
on March 4, 2002
Just when us Nashville songwriters thought it couldn't get any better, this massively influential CD has been reissued by MCA in beautiful pristine analog, returning the original bass sound to the mix. The guitars and drums are crystal-clear. There are previously-deleted CD cover photos taken in downtown Nashville, a seething live version of Bruce Springsteen's "State Trooper," (recorded during Earle's initial concert tour in August 1986 at the Park West in Chicago) and insightful liner notes by Earle himself, which guide the listener through the genesis of "Guitar Town." Thank you, MCA.
In February 2002, after it's re-release, Earle and the original studio musicians held "Guitar Town Revisited," a landmark, one-night-only concert during which they performed the entire Guitar Town CD start to finish at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. With Earle's insightful anecdotes, Tony Brown's introduction, and the original studio musicians having a ball on stage, that evening capped off an era. In a recent newspapaer interview, Earle addressed the fact that Garth Brooks was a huge fan and was heavily influenced by Guitar Town. In typical acid-tounged style, Earle replied: "I have a real problem with that. Garth Brooks opened a show for us in Stillwater one time, and he cites me as a major influence. Don't blaim me for Garth Brooks."
on January 30, 2002
Steve Earle is definitely the Hank Williams of our generation-except thankfully he's lived to tell the tale. "Guitar Town" is not his greatest release,but it jump started an awesome talent's career. And compared to the other releases of it's time,it was a masterpiece. "My Old Friend The Blues" still stands out as one of Steve's best songs,as does "Fearless Heart","Someday",and the title track. There really isn't a bad song on this CD,and the bonus live track,Springsteen's "State Trooper" is awesome,and fitting seeing as how Steve has always been compared to the Boss. But Steve Earle shouldn't be compared to anyone-he is a true original and one our best singer-songwriters around today. "Guitar Town" is a good start for anyone who has never heard Steve Earle,but don't stop there. Steve Earle's catalouge is vast and very much worth listening to.
on September 2, 2006
This is a great album that blurred whatever distinction existed between country and rock, and this guy writes really good country lyrics that aren't the least bit corny or stupid. This and the next album he released, Exit 0, are his best - and in my opinion - two of the finest country albums ever made. There was a big problem though; They were recorded digitally on either very bad equipment, or by someone who was clueless (or both), and the result was very harsh with hardly any bass. Steve got this satisfactorily fixed on Guitar Town by converting the digital tape to analog, and then to DSD, and making the nesessary sonic adjustments before down-converting to 16 bit for the cd. The result is much improved over the original CD, making this great performance more enjoyable.
on March 5, 2002
This essential Steve Earle album has the gems "Guitar Town," "Hillbilly Highway," "My Old Friend the Blues,"--well, heck, they're pretty much all gems. "Guitar Town" concisely sketches the life of a traveling musician in today's terms. "Hillbilly Highway" is defiantly proud of its country roots. Even the quasi-lullaby, "Little Rock and Roller," has an edge and benefits from Earle's signature gruff, sandpapery voice. All-around excellent stuff.
on September 30, 2006
Dare I say it, this is THE BEST country album that was recorded in the eighties. So naturally, it was largely ignored by the music row jugheads in Nashville forcing our hero to go into the realm of rock music in order to have his talent appreciated. The first six songs on this release are perfect in every way! Anyone who likes vintage Dwight Yoakam, the folkier side of Springsteen or the seventies era of Waylon Jennings should own this!! The title track is marvelous and just a blast to listen to, "Goodbye Is All We Got Left To Say" is one of the best written songs ever and "Hillbilly Highway" will get stuck in your head for days!! Then as if this trio wasn't good enough, then along comes "Gettin' Tough" to knock you upside the head followed by a couple songs later by "Someday" known as the greatest song Springsteen NEVER wrote! If this album isn't a five star, then I don't know what is!! Buy it, love it, live it!! It's that good!!
on May 21, 2002
Inspired by his attendance of a Bruce Springsteen "Born in the USA" concert in Tennessee, staff songwriter Steve Earle wanted to record a CD that "people would want to listen to start to finish." In the process, this monolithic showcase of neo-outlaw singing/songwriting inadvertantly struck a chord with a new country music audience: young, freshly college-educated, and thoroughly disenchanted with the Kenny Rogers/Urban Cowboy era, "Guitar Town" set a new level of expectation for country music. Earle's intensely personal, riveting, dusty blue collar vignettes steamrolled skepticism and garnered praise from 'Rolling Stone' and 'The Village Voice' before country radio even gave the CD a second look (or listen.) "Guitar Town" (featuring Richard Bennett's Duane Eddy-styled Danelectro guitar solo) became a #8 radio hit as young America embraced the song's escapist exhuberance and sent the CD to #1 in three weeks. "Someday," a masterpiece written about a kid stuck in a dead-end job pumping gas, got the attention of Bruce Springsteen and peaked at #12. "Good-bye's All We Got Left To Say" and "Hilbilly Highway" rounded out a 4-single chart run. Not a massive commercial success (only recently reaching sales of 500,000) this Dylanesque country project made the Rolling Stone "Top 100 Albums of the 80's" list. "Guitar Town" continues to have an monumental influence on singer/songwriters for it's fusion of pithy character development, catchy melodies and echoing guitar solos, and remains the cornerstone of what most likely was the most exciting, daring (and best) period in post-Hank Williams country music history.
on March 12, 2002
....Steve Earle's 'Guitar Town' is an incredible album when viewed in the context of 1986. Country music was still suffering from 'Urban Cowboy' syndrome at that time and Nashville was crankin' out one bland, yet somehow overproduced song, after another. Country music's main stars at the time, Kenny Rogers, Dolly Parton, et al, were as emotionless as the songs they sang. 'Guitar Town' could not have come at a better time. From the opening chord to the fade out, the title track is perfection. The Duane Eddy riffs add just the right amount of rockabilly to the mix, and Earle's voice blends perfectly with the music. Other stand out tracks, 'My Old Friend the Blues', 'Hillbilly Highway', and 'Good Ol' Boy' are not only outstanding songs, but were written from experience. 'Fearless Heart' foreshadows Earle's numerous fast starting and just as fast ending marriages. Only 'Little Rock 'N Roller' comes across as pedestrian. This is a must have for any person that considers themselves a music fan.
on September 23, 2003
Aside from the early classic period(Hank, Patsy, etc.), I had never been a country music fan. Driving through the night, I would sometimes listen to country stations and chortle at the cliches, the staged sentimentality and the totally phony "patriotism". Beyond horrible!!!! By chance, I got this on vinyl years ago and I loved it. I recently bought the CD and I am stunned; It is even better than I remember. Unlike most amazon reviews, the majority here are very well written, knowledgable, and perceptive. I am actually pleased to say that there is little that I can add. As I loaned this to someone last week, I said "after this you will never say a nasty word about country music again". I got a call last night asking for all of my other Steve Earle CD's. Wonderful,Wonderful,Wonderful. PS Though I agree that "Rock and Roller" is the weak link here, the pedal solo is as good as it gets.