Train a Comin
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
Steve Earl opens the album by declaring: "This here's the 'Hometown Blues' with apologies to Thomas Wolfe and Doc Watson," and then presents the listener with the warmest and perhaps most personal album of this country renegade's career. It had been four years since his last studio album, 1991's The Hard Way, and almost a decade since his 1986 debut Guitar Town. For this comeback effort, Earle strips things down to the roots. The band consists of a Who's Who of country, folk and bluegrass musicians: Norman Blake (guitar, Dobro, fiddle, mandolin and Hawaiian guitar), Peter Rowan (mandolin, mandola, gut string guitar and vocals), Roy Husky (accoustic bass) and Emmylou Harris (vocals). The album is a mixture of originals like "Mercenary Song" and "Ben McCulloch," and covers like Townes Van Zandt's "Tecumseh Valley" and a wonderful version of the Beatles' "I'm Looking Through You." If you enjoyed Earle's 1999 collaberation with the Del McCoury Band on The Mountain, you'll love Train a Comin'. In 1986 three artists released their debuts: Dwight Yoakam, Randy Travis and Steve Earle. I thought they would save country music. If they haven't succeeded, they at least have helped preserve its integrity. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
"This ain't my unplugged record!" Steve writes in the liner notes to this gem, originally released in '95. It's a collection of songs old and new, and a few covers, performed primarily on acoustic tours. There's nary a bad track; and the good ones... they'll haunt you long after the album's over. A case in point: "Goodbye." Emmylou Harris does a near-definitive version of it on her Wrecking Ball album, but here... Steve's understated vocals bypass the brain in favor of the heart, recalling all of the folks left behind but carried with us, still. For that song alone, this CD is a necessary addition to any self-respecting fan's collection; add in the story-song "Ben McCulloch," his masterful take of Townes' Van Zandt's "Tecumsah Valley" and his duet with Emmylou on "Rivers of Babylon"... this is one of those albums that you put in the CD player to listen to and end up listening to it two, three, four times in a row.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on August 23, 1999
Train catches the essential Earle. Great musicians on this album. Fantastic stories, good music, wonderful "comback" compilation of old and new. I was priviliged to see SE in his first live show after getting out of the grey bar hotel at the Vic in Chicago. Still the best show I have ever seen. He was truely moved on several occasions and once had to turn his back to the crowd because of it. I have been to dozens of shows in my day but never experieced a show where they turned on the lights to the theater and turned on the recorded music, and nobody left. SE came on for a 4th encore and said " I don't know where your staying tonight but it can't be here, so I'll do one more and you got to promise to go". Well he went into a acoustic version of Someday and made everyones night. What a great album and eclectic talent.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
I only know Steve Earle thru "The Mountain" and this album. To me, he is the world's greatest folk and bluegrass musician...even though most of his albums are made with other instrumentation. I just see a guy who's loaded with talent and musical intent. He picks up a guitar, he opens his mouth, and what comes out is just perfect. The way this album starts up..."Hear that train a comin', hear that train a comin'..." Nothing could be simpler, and yet it comes out like the very spirit of music. "The Mountain" deserves 6 stars. This one gets a 5. Great.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on January 10, 2004
When this CD came out in the mid-90's, all-acoustic "unplugged" albums where artists re-recorded their greatest hits with acoustic instruments had become sort of a fad, thanks to MTV. However, if you are expecting something like that, you are in for a surprise. This is just a kick-ass, hard-country album, with (almost) all original songs. The only album I would compare this to would be Waylon Jennings' "Honky Tonk Heroes" -- which is saying a whole hell of a lot.
The only song on this CD which I could do without is "Rivers of Babylon", which is an attempt at some kind of country reggae. However, thanks to the wonders of modern technology, I can skip this track without having to pick a needle up and put it back down without scratching the record, or even having to mess around with a fast-forward button. Is the 21st century great or what?
If you like country music, or if you just like good music, don't pass this record up!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on July 30, 1999
I read the current press commentary about Steve Earle, seems they've all 'discovered' the boy these days. Every danged one wants to tell us about Steve's 'bad habits' and his return from the hoosegow, full of musical vim and vigor. Then some will try to tell you his 1996 release 'I Feel Alright' was what got him back on the road to whatever. Them newshawks need to pay a little more attention. 1995's "Train A-Comin" was Steve's first post-hoosegow hightoned yowl, and it's still my favorite. Some of his best work is sprinkled around on this album, 'Sometimes She Forgets' done here the way it oughta be done (ignore anything you heard released out of Nashville). It echoes the theme of the haunting 'Tecumsah Valley',a legacy of the immortal Townes Van Zandt, Steve's friend and mentor. Musicians and backup vocals are top notch, not just good, maestro's. No more than needed, and doing what they do better'n anyone. We're talking Norman Blake here, and Emmy Lou in fine fettle. Back before those newshawks were paying attention, Steve hit the ground running in '95. What's more, just when he needed to let his pent-up music loose, his old fans needed to hear it. So if you were dozin', showed up late, or carry a presspass and need a fact-checker...don't miss that Train. She's a high bindin' juggernaut, and she'll ride you all the way on over to "The Mountain". That's a danged metaphor, and us hillbillies don't get to use them too often. I'll betcha Steve would get a kick out of it.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on May 4, 2004
I remember when I found this cd. It was the day it was released, and to my knowledge, Steve Earle was in prison on drug charges. The dude at the music store had this in his hand to put on the shelf, and I was like, a new Steve Earle recording? I had to buy it, but I figured it was some "outtakes" from his previous recordings which I had grew less and less fond of.
I got home, and SON!!!! New recordings!!!! Acoustic recordings!!!! Steve Earle had been up to something and didnt' even tell anyone!!!!
All the songs here are top notch bluegrassy, stringband type songs. No overblown "I want to be a rock star" songs. He covers and now has the definate version of "Tecumseh Valley." But I can't single out one song here that is better than the others.
This is the album, that to me, stands next to "Guitar Town" as the works that define what Steve Earle is all about.
Now lets just hope for another effort like this one.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on June 15, 1998
"Train-a-comin" was the album that got me back into Steve Earle after buying his Hillbilly Highway back in the 80s. Until "Train", I had lost interest in Earle, thinking he was a flash in the pan. Now that I'm back into his music, I realize nothing could be further from the truth. "Train" is one of those rare wall-to-wall solid recordings that never disappoints and usually inspires sing-along in the car. I think it's a perfect record. After "Train," I've picked up on Earle's other 90s offereings, and I have found them to be excellent as well. His latest, "El Corazon" is particularly good. But the one that made it all work for me is "Train". For an all-acoustic album, it's wonderfully diverse, with nice acoustic blendings, harmonies, and soulful thumpings. For me, this album is an access point into one of the most amazing singer/songwriting talents of our time.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on March 1, 2000
I bought this CD several years ago because of one of the songs on it that I had heard someone else play and I'm still listening to it today. I don't know eveything, but this CD ranks this as one of the best of the 90's, It doesn't matter what kind of music you listen to Train is a masterpiece.I admit that while I new of SE before his vacation, I would hardly call myself a fan. But I can't tell you how many people I've turned on to the man simply by forcing them to listen to this CD. Just once and their all hooked. As good as this CD is you haven't lived until you've seen him live. If he ever comes to your town drop everything and go, you won't regret it.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on July 18, 2000
Every party I have, I play this CD. I love turning friends on to Steve's musical works. He such a versatile singer/songwriter. Nothin' Without You is perhaps the best country song ever written, if only for its complete simplicity and Steve's wonderful delivery. Emmy's background vocals lends an etheral memorable quality to it that reverbrates in the mind long after the song is over.
Steve can do covers better than the originals. Rivers of Babylon and Tecumseh Valley are two fine examples. Imagine reggae Steve Earle style. Sometimes She Forgets reminds us that no one can do Steve's songs better than himself, even Travis Tritt who made a hit of this song several years ago.
Buy it and introduce it to all your friends. Maybe we can get a pyramid scheme going to get everyone in the US to listen to this great, great work of art!
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