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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! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

September 10, 2014 at 13:15