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Crazy For Leavin’: Raven Collects Four Albums From Troubadour Guy Clark

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Guy Clark - American DreamIn 2014, Guy Clark netted the Grammy Award for Best Folk Album for My Favorite Picture of You. Dedicated to his wife and muse of 40 years, Susanna Clark, My Favorite Picture proved that the years hadn’t dulled the ability of the Texas-born pioneer of the progressive country movement to craft a moving, tender, keenly-observed and well-crafted collection of songs. Following its release of the Clark anthology Hindsight 21/20 (1975-1995), Australia’s Raven Records label has revisited his catalogue for An American Dream: 4 Classic Albums 1978-1992. This new 2-CD set features four Clark albums originally released under the Warner Music Group umbrella. The first three arrived consecutively from the less-than-prolific artist on the Warner Bros. label: 1978’s self-titled album, 1981’s The South Coast of Texas and 1983’s Better Days. Following Better Days, Clark didn’t release another album until 1988 when he re-emerged with Old Friends on the Sugar Hill label. An American Dream resumes, however, with his next Warner release, 1993’s Boats to Build, on the just-reactivated Asylum label.

Alongside such artists as Townes Van Zandt, Kris Kristofferson, Tom T. Hall, Willie Nelson and Jerry Jeff Walker, Guy Clark was at the vanguard of so-called progressive country. The sub-genre rebuffed the lush Nashville Sound and edged country-and-western into the present day by blending traditional honky-tonk style with newer elements influenced by rock and the burgeoning singer-songwriter sound. Progressive country also spawned outlaw country, which took the rock attitude even further. In fact, it was Walker (“Mr. Bojangles”) who helped raise Clark’s profile considerably when he recorded Clark’s songs “L.A. Freeway” and “Desperados Waiting for a Train.” (Three early Walker albums have also been recently reissued in one package by Raven.)

Mentoring talents like Rodney Crowell and Steve Earle while nurturing his own solo career, first at RCA and then at Warner Bros., Clark also befriended contemporaries like fellow Texan Van Zandt whom he considered a major influence; in fact, he included Van Zandt songs on numerous LPs including two of the albums presented here. Clark’s third album, 1978’s self-titled Guy Clark, opens Raven’s set with seven Clark compositions, one by Van Zandt, one by Crowell and one Jimmie Rodgers cover. Many familiar sidemen joined Clark for his Warner Bros. debut including Willie Nelson’s long-serving harmonica man, Mickey Raphael, plus “Nashville” David Briggs on piano, Buddy Emmons on steel guitar, Albert Lee on guitar, and Don Everly and Rodney Crowell on background vocals. “Fools for Each Other” cracked the Billboard country chart at No. 96.

Clark followed the album three years later with The South Coast of Texas, on which Crowell played a much larger role. The former member of Emmylou Harris’ Hot Band had launched his own solo career in 1981 to acclaim. Proving Oscar Hammerstein II’s adage that “by your pupils you’ll be taught,” Crowell became as much an influence on Clark as Clark had been on Crowell. For South Coast, the younger artist co-wrote a couple of songs with Clark in addition to taking over production duties from Neil Wilburn. Crowell’s then-wife Rosanne Cash and future superstar Vince Gill joined the sessions to contribute vocals, and Crowell assembled another top-tier band including Glen D. Hardin on keyboards, Emory Gordy on bass, Richard Bennett on piano, Hank DeVito on guitar, and Ricky Skaggs on fiddle. One year later, in 1982, bluegrass master Skaggs would earn a No. 1 C&W hit with Clark’s “Heartbroke.” The Clark/Crowell co-write “The Partner Nobody Chose” reached No. 38 on the C&W singles chart, while “She’s Crazy for Leavin’” – their other co-composition – was revisited by Crowell in 1988 on his Diamonds and Dirt album. It went to No. 1 and remained on the chart for fourteen weeks!

Don’t miss a thing – there’s more on this set after the jump, including the full track listing and order links!

The second disc of Raven’s set begins with 1983’s Better Days, another Crowell production featuring their song “Uncertain Texas.” The first of Clark’s Warner Bros. albums to chart (at No. 48 Country), it featured a cover of Van Zandt’s “No Deal” and featured some of the core players from South Coast including Vince Gill, Hank DeVito and Emory Gordy. Legendary fiddler Johnny Gimble, of Bob Wills’ Texas Playboys, joined in, as did Memphis guitar great Reggie Young. Though commercial acclaim most often seemed to greet Clark’s songs when performed by other artists – including The Oak Ridge Boys, Bobby Bare, Ricky Skaggs, Vince Gill, Steve Wariner, Asleep at the Wheel and Clark’s friends The Highwaymen – his intensely personal, mordant brand of storytelling grew stronger with each solo album.

1992’s Boats to Build, Clark’s first album for Asylum Records, concludes Raven’s presentation. It’s unique here in that most of its songs were co-written with others, including Crowell (of course), plus wife Susanna Clark, Lee Roy Parnell, Verlon Thompson, Richard Leigh, J.C. Crowley and Bill Lloyd. Slide/dobro master Jerry Douglas contributed mightily to the sound of the album as did Parnell on slide and Marty Stuart and Sam Bush on mandolin. Emmylou Harris duetted with Clark on “I Don’t Love You Much, Do I” and her ex-husband and frequent collaborator Brian Ahern also appeared on guitar.

Since Boats to Build, Clark has remained true to himself and followed his own path, recording for Sugar Hill, Rounder, New West and Dualtone; his last three, acclaimed Dualtone albums have all charted on both the Country and Folk surveys. Raven’s An American Dream, featuring four memorable Clark LPs, is available now at the links below.

Guy Clark, An American Dream: 4 Classic Albums 1978-1992 (Raven RVCD-379, 2014) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. )

CD 1

  1. Fool on the Roof
  2. Fools for Each Other
  3. Shades of All Greens
  4. Voila, an American Dream
  5. One Paper Kid
  6. In the Jailhouse Now
  7. Comfort and Crazy
  8. Don’t You Take It Too Bad
  9. The Houston Kid
  10. Fool on the Roof Blues
  11. Who Do You Think You Are
  12. Crystelle
  13. New Cut Road
  14. Rita Ballou
  15. South Coast of Texas
  16. Heartbroke
  17. The Partner Nobody Chose
  18. She’s Crazy For Leavin’
  19. Calf-Rope
  20. Lone Star Hotel

CD 2

  1. Blowin’ Like a Bandit
  2. Better Days
  3. Homegrown Tomatoes
  4. Supply and Demand
  5. Randall Knife
  6. Carpenter
  7. Uncertain Texas
  8. No Deal
  9. Tears
  10. Fool in the Mirror
  11. Baton Rouge
  12. Picasso’s Mandolin
  13. How’d You Get This Number
  14. Boats to Build
  15. Too Much
  16. Ramblin’ Jack and Mahan
  17. I Don’t Love You Much Do I
  18. Jack of All Trades
  19. Madonna w/Child ca. 1969
  20. Must Be My Baby

CD 1, Tracks 1-10 from Guy Clark, Warner Bros. LP BSK 3241, 1978
CD 1, Tracks 11-20 from The South Coast of Texas, Warner Bros. LP BSK 3381, 1981
CD 2, Tracks 1-10 from Better Days, Warner Bros. LP 23880, 1983
CD 2, Tracks 11-20 from Boats to Build, Asylum CD 61442-2, 1992

Written by Joe Marchese

September 10, 2014 at 13:15

One Response

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  1. A great artist! Thank you for the tip on the reissue.

    Kevin

    September 10, 2014 at 13:21


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