# A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Billy Joe Shaver - The Collection

  by Lisa Torem

published: 21 / 9 / 2019

Billy Joe Shaver - The Collection
Label: Floating World
Format: CD X2


Superb double CD retrospective of prolific American country musician, Billy Joe Shaver, which packages together four of his albums and deserves a deep listen.

The under-rated accomplishments of American singer-songwriter Billy Joe Shaver are now being celebrated with a grand collection. This review will cover 'Ole Five and Dimers Like Me' (1973), 'I’m Just an Old Chunk of Coal' (1981), 'Billy Joe Shaver' (1982) and 'Salt of the Earth' (1987). 'Ole Five and Dimers Like Me' (1973): Produced by Kris Kristofferson, this album is chock-full of authentic and relatable themes. Shaver was a hit-making songwriter for peer, Waylon Jennings, having penned most of the songs of 'Honky Tonk Heroes'. That fact alone should get one’s attention. The production is squeaky clean, leaving room for all instruments and voices to have their say. I especially enjoyed ‘Played the Game Too Long’ in which the sensitive lyric forces the listener to reflect. ‘I Been to Georgia on a Fast Train’ moves along just as the title suggests with a contagious hook. ‘Serious Souls’ surely deviates from the standard country exposition and the stunning ‘Bottom Dollar’ rises up to honour this Texan’s unique DNA. 'An Old Chunk of Coal' (1981) ‘Fit to Kill and Going Out in Style’ entices with masculine blues harp and abrupt endings. For some tender romance, go no further than ‘Blue Texas Waltz,’ which, with lines such as “the one I have waited to hold…” lure you into another passionate world. Not surprisingly, ‘Saturday Night’ is the quintessential party song. ‘Ragged Old Truck’ finds Shaver’s voice undergoing major acrobatics, which brings us to the title song; a feast of alliteration and imagery. It doesn’t end there, though. ‘(We Are) The Cowboys’ is another sizzling example, in which Shaver invites us to a home elevated by “hardwood floors” and a “pot-bellied stove.” On ‘Mexico,’ the characters, themselves, win us over. This is: “Where the wrinkled old men in their dusty serapes…” A more cynical voice appears on ‘It Ain’t Nothing New, Babe’. The killer line here is: “It wasn’t worth dying for when I told you goodbye.” ‘The Road’ is unique in that it is supported by a truculent bass. So in essence, by the time we get to the closer, we’ve enjoyed hearing this Texan’s take on a multitude of stories told in multiple ways. 'Billy Joe Shaver' (1982) The first cut, ‘Amtrak’, whistles and sings, similarly to America’s archaic train system. ‘Bottom Dollar’ is set apart by the energy of a feverish fiddle and snappy phrasing. It’s pure, honest and impossible to resist. ‘Oklahoma Wind’ is strengthened by a no-nonsense message: “The government ain’t something you can trust” and the hint of an unsolved crime. In other words, the stakes are pretty high. ‘Ride Me Down Easy’ is clear-cut, though, with sterling harmonies and tight solos. ‘Tell Me Virginia’ begins with another virtuosic solo; we’ll hear even more on ‘One Moving Part’. ‘I Been to Georgia on a Fast Train’ is a superb showcase tune on every level. As Shaver’s voice whips out words, the band has his back. ‘Love you Till the Cows Come Home’ is perfectly balanced: catchy riffs couple with a convincing message. 'Salt of the Earth' (1987) These ten tracks are enhanced by the addition of Shaver’s guitar-wielding son, Eddy Shaver. ‘Whiteman Watermelon’ celebrates blues, but with the addition of some clever, lyrical twists. Eddy Shaver’s excellent work shines throughout. On ‘Sweet Mama,’ the elder Shaver’s voice dips and rises within a solitary phrase. ‘Hardworkin’ Man’ is an endearing look at all male, working class heroes. ‘Manual Labor’ is characterized by a delightful Caribbean beat. On ‘Hill Country Love Song,’ the songwriter’s voice is pure silk, as he brings to life a magical homestead. On the other hand, ‘You Just Can’t Beat Jesus Christ’ boasts Shaver’s rough-hewn vocals, overlayed with crisp guitar. ‘The Devil Made Me Do It for The First Time’ is another gem. Rich guitar kicks in immediately, giving Shaver a moment to breath before all hell breaks loose. ‘Fun While It Lasted’ has a lovely, old-timey feel, despite its melancholy title. The honky-tonk piano makes it shimmer. ‘Street Walkin’ Woman’ is essentially a bluesy shuffle, but what sets it apart is the superb guitar soloing. ‘Good News Blues’ is another vehicle for terrific guitar, this time, though, in an engaging call and response format. In summary, this one-off collection, which yields expert songwriting, heartening vocal technique and sharp instrumentals, would sit comfortably among any music fan’s current collection.

Track Listing:-
1 Black Rose
2 Old Five and Dimers Like Me
3 L.A. Turnaround
4 Jesus Christ, What a Man
5 Played the Game Too Long
6 I Been to Georgia on a Fast Train
7 Willy the Wandering Gypsy and Me
8 Low Down Freedom
9 Jesus Was Our Saviour and Cotton Was
10 Serious Souls
11 Bottom Dollar
12 Sweet Mama
13 Hard Workin' Man
14 Manuel Labour
15 Hill Country Love Song
16 You Just Can't Beat Jesus Christ
17 The Devil Made Me Do It the First Time
18 For a While It Lasted
19 Whiteman's Watermelon
20 Street Walkin' Woman
21 Good News Blues
22 Amtrak
23 Bottom Dollar
24 Old Five and Dimers Like Me
25 How Many Hearts Must You Break
26 Oklahoma Wind
27 Ride Me Down Easy
28 Tell Me Virginia
29 Low Down Freedom
30 One Moving Part
31 I Been to Georgia on a Fast Train
32 Fit to Kill and Going Out in Style
33 Blue Texas Waltz
34 Saturday Night
35 Ragged Old Truck
36 I'm Just An Old Chunk of Coal (But
37 When the World Was Thunderbird
38 (We Are) the Cowboys
39 Mexico
40 It Ain't Nothing New Babe
41 The Road

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