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Country - Released May 18, 1987 | MCA Nashville

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Country - Released October 17, 1988 | Geffen

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Country - Released March 1, 1996 | Warner Records

Steve Earle quietly announced he was back in action and capable of making substantial, heartfelt music again with his 1994 acoustic album Train a Comin', but on 1995's I Feel Alright Earle showed he was truly back in fighting shape, and from the album's first moments he sounds ready to roar and holds nothing back. While Earle's battle with drug abuse and his brief stay in prison aren't explicitly addressed on this album (except on the harrowing "CCKMP," in which Earle confesses "cocaine cannot kill my pain" and "heroin is the only thing/the only gift the darkness brings"), the hurt brought to himself and others by his betrayals runs through many of these songs, sometimes with humor ("Hard Core Troubadour"), sometimes with regret ("Valentine's Day"), and sometimes with a painful self-awareness ("Hurtin' Me, Hurtin' You" and "The Unrepentant"). But I Feel Alright isn't about addiction and loss so much as recovery and starting over again, and if the songs often concern Earle's misdeeds, the strength of the music finds him confronting his demons without flinching and conjuring up some of the powerfully muscular rock and affecting country of his life. And like Train a Comin', I Feel Alright shows Earle finding the courage and confidence to make a record just the way he wants, and this may be Earle's finest hour in the studio -- the production is tough, resonant, and a perfect match for the material, the players bring their A game without showboating, and Earle's rough but passionate vocals are pure, honest, and direct on every cut. I Feel Alright affirmed that Steve Earle's brush with oblivion had not only failed to silence him, but he was a more courageous artist when he came out the other side, and no one who has heard this record is likely to argue that point. ~ Mark Deming
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Country - Released June 16, 2017 | Warner Records

Steve Earle is a rebel. Not in the Hollywood/James Dean/Easy Rider/rebel-against-society sense, but rather in a real and personal way. Throughout his life and career he has rebelled against the very industry that surrounded him and did not find the freedom he sought until he started his own label, E-Squared. He rebelled against his common sense and his health in search of true American artistry and did not find the freedom he sought until he hit the bottom of addiction, and he continues to rebel against mainstream American culture and politics with his attitudes and songs; Transcendental Blues is no exception. Transcendental Blues walks the line between Steve Earle the country-rock rebel who gave the world Copperhead Road and Guitar Town and Steve Earle the traditionalist who opened a new chapter in bluegrass with his last release, The Mountain. This album rocks with songs like "Everyone's in Love with You" and "All My Life." It soothes with "The Boy Who Never Cried" and "Lonelier Than This," and it two-steps with new country like "The Galway Girl" and "Until the Day I Die." Fans of alternative country music sing the praises of artists like Charlie Robison, Jack Ingram, and Robert Earl Keen, Jr., but Earle proves again and again that he is the original alternative to the glossy side of Nashville. Earle cut the path that all his followers thankfully hike along, avoiding the weeds and branches that made him what he is today. ~ Michael Cusanelli
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Country - Released January 10, 1997 | Warner Records

To say Steve Earle had career problems in 1994 when he recorded Train a Comin' is something more than an understatement. Earle's life went into a dramatic tailspin thanks to a voracious drug habit after he parted ways with MCA in 1991, and he ended up spending a few months in jail on drug and weapons charges in 1993. Earle thankfully got treatment for his addictions while behind bars, and was clean and sober for the first time in many years when he scored a deal with a tiny independent label, Winter Harvest Records, and cut an acoustic album called Train a Comin'. Considering how low Earle had sunk, it was a pleasant shock that Train a Comin' was not only good, it was one of the strongest albums of his career to date. Dominated by songs he's written years before along with a few new tunes and some well-chosen covers, Train a Comin' featured Earle with a small group of gifted acoustic pickers, including Norman Blake, Peter Rowan, and Roy Huskey, Jr., and the tone of these sessions is at once relaxed and committed, sounding like a back porch guitar pull with a seriously talented guy handling the lead vocals and calling out the tunes. Earle's experiences with the judicial system hadn't exactly improved his voice, but he's in far more potent form than he had been on 1991's live set Shut Up and Die Like an Aviator, and his control and command of his instrument is genuinely impressive. Earle's natural cockiness works in his favor on these tunes, especially "Tom Ames' Prayer," "Hometown Blues," and "Angel Is the Devil," and his gift for telling a story is plainly evident on "Ben McCulloch" and a moving cover of Townes Van Zandt's "Tecumseh Valley." Train a Comin' is not an album that asks the audience to forgive Steve Earle for his sins; it's a document of an artist who after a season in hell has reclaimed his gift and is determined to put it to use, and after years of fighting Nashville to do things his own way, Earle resumed his career by following his own muse with eloquent simplicity, and Train a Comin' shows his instincts were entirely correct. [Winter Harvest's original release of Train a Comin' featured a sequence not approved by Earle, who reissued the album on his E Squared label with a different running order; some pressings of the E Square version also delete his cover of the Beatles' "I'm Looking Through You."] ~ Mark Deming
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Country - Released June 16, 2017 | Warner Records

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Reggae - Released September 26, 1997 | Warner Records

Anyone who figured that Steve Earle's triumphant return to form on I Feel Alight was either a fluke or a burst of second wind attributable to his return to health got the message that Earle was back to stay with 1997's El Corazón. El Corazón isn't as consistently strong as I Feel Alright and lacks a bit of that album's thematic unity, but the high points connect just as powerfully, and the album kicks off with a tremendous one-two punch, the rousing acoustic ballad "Christmas in Washington" and "Taneytown," a harrowing story of race and violence backed with gale-force electric guitars. El Corazón is also a good bit more eclectic than much of Earle's previous work, dipping into bluegrass ("You Know the Rest," featuring backing from the Del McCoury Band), old-school country ("The Other Side of Town"), hard rock ("N.Y.C.," co-starring the Supersuckers, and "Here I Am"), and vintage R&B ("Telephone Road"). As its title suggests, El Corazón often deals with matters of the heart, expressed with particular eloquence on "Poison Lovers" and "If You Fall," though the song's most emotionally resonant moment comes with its closing song, "Ft. Worth Blues," a moving farewell to Earle's longtime friend and mentor Townes Van Zandt. Earle co-produced El Corazón with frequent studio partner Ray Kennedy, and the record sounds superb, with the vocals rich and the guitars potent, confirming that Earle is the best judge of his own recorded work. El Corazón isn't the instant classic that I Feel Alright was, but it's more than good enough to show that Earle was a major talent not about to go away, and it ranks with his most vital work. ~ Mark Deming
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Country - Released May 18, 1987 | MCA Nashville

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Country - Released June 16, 2017 | Warner Records

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Even if he is not from the same generation as Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Billy Joe Shaver or Kris Kristofferson, Steve Earle is a genuine outlaw, lock, stock and barrel. His attitude chimes with the criticisms that people have levelled against him since he started out: too rock for Nashville, too country for rock. With time, Earle made a name for himself as a great songwriter, full stop - he didn't worry too much about which musical family would adopt him. A disciple and friend of his fellow Texans Townes Van Zandt and Guy Clark, he was a member of the outlaw band that lived on the margins of Nashville in the Seventies. He is also a perfect Don Juan (seven marriages!), a recovered junky who endured a long descent into hell that took him as far as prison, an actor who has worked on cult series like The Wire or Treme and even a novelist (with a new collection entitled Doghouse Roses and the novel I'll Never Get Out Of This World Alive). As much at home in punchy country rock and visceral folk as in bluegrass, genres which he attacks with the heart of a punk and the soul of a committed rebel engaged in all the struggles of America's radical left, the self-proclaimed hardcore troubadour here renders homage to his rebel predecessor, possibly the ultimate outlaw: Waylon Jennings. And the guitars are furious from the off, which is a side of Steve Earle we have not seen for years. From the first strands of So You Wannabe An Outlaw, the first song on the album and the one that gives it its title, the bearded man's country rock intentions are pretty clear. And even more so when we hear, in the midst of this rollocking track, the voice of Willie Nelson! Elsewhere, Earle sings a duet with Miranda Lambert on This is How It Ends, and then does the same with Johnny Bush (author of Whiskey River by Willie Nelson!) on Walkin' in LA. The record leaves us giddy and sweating, covered in dust, knuckles bloodied. Note that the Deluxe Edition contains some choice covers: Ain't No God in Mexico by Billy Joe Shaver, Sister's Coming Home/Down At The Corner Beer Joint by Willie Nelson, The Local Memory also by Willie Nelson and the immense Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way by Waylon Jennings, an outlaw hymn par excellence. © MZ/Qobuz
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Country - Released June 16, 2017 | Warner Records

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Country - Released June 16, 2017 | Warner Records

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Country - Released June 16, 2017 | Warner Records

Say what you will about him, but Steve Earle has never been afraid of getting people mad at him if he thought it was the right thing to do, and since his mid-'90s career rebirth after overcoming multiple drug addictions, Earle seems far more interested in stirring people up with a productive purpose in mind rather than cheesing folks off just for the hell of it. Like nearly everyone in the United States, Earle was struck with anger and confusion following the events of September 11, 2001, and his thoughts on the subject form the backbone of his album Jerusalem. But instead of an appeal to patriotism or a tribute to the fallen, Earle has crafted a vision of America thrown into chaos, where the falling of the World Trade Center towers is just another symbol of a larger malaise which surrounds us. Before its release, Jerusalem already generated no small controversy over the song "John Walker's Blues," which tells the tale of "American Taliban" John Walker Lindh as seen through his own eyes. While "John Walker's Blues" is no more an endorsement of Lindh's actions than Bruce Springsteen's "Nebraska" was a tribute to mass-murderer Charles Starkweather, even though it's one of the album's strongest songs, if anything, it doesn't go quite far enough. While Earle's thumbnail sketch of how an American boy could find a truth in the words of Mohammad rings true, it never quite explains making the leap from studying Islam to taking up arms thousands of miles from home. Still, it's makes the point that the issues of our new "war on terrorism" are as relevant to our own backyards as the Middle East. As Earle tries to sort out the hows and whys of our news fears in "Ashes to Ashes" and "Conspiracy Theory," he can't help but think of other evidence of the erosion of the American dreams -- the growing gulf between the rich and the poor ("Amerika V. 6.0 (The Best We Can Do)"), the flaws of our judicial system ("The Truth"), illegal aliens chasing their own bit of an increasing elusive prosperity ("What's A Simple Man to Do"). Earle asks a lot of questions on Jerusalem for which no one has the answers, but for all the rage, puzzlement, and remorse of these songs, the title track closes the album with a message of fervent hope -- that the answers can't be found in hate or violence, but peace and forgiveness. Jerusalem is the work of a thinking troublemaker with a loving heart, and while more than a few people will be angered by some of his views, Earle asks too many important questions to ignore, and the album is a brave and thought-provoking work of political art. ~ Mark Deming
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Country - Released June 16, 2017 | Warner Records

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Country - Released July 1, 1990 | Geffen* Records

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Country - Released May 12, 2009 | New West Records

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Country - Released June 16, 2017 | Warner Records

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Country - Released January 1, 1996 | Hip-O (UC)

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Country - Released January 1, 2009 | MCA Nashville

Steve Earle has long had a loyal following in the United Kingdom after Guitar Town was embraced by the British music press, so it's no great surprise that the BBC has recorded a few of his concerts in England for later broadcast. Live at the BBC features a 13-song show Earle played at London's Town & Country Club on November 29, 1988, as well as four songs from a show cut for Liz Kershaw's show on April 16, 1987. The 1988 performance (which was previously released on CD as BBC Radio 1 Live in Concert) finds Earle in enthusiastic and talkative form, playing a number of songs from the recently released Copperhead Road as well some earlier favorites, an interpretation of the traditional English folk song "When Will We Be Married," and a honky tonk cover of the Rolling Stones' "Dead Flowers" (which he describes as "a perfectly good British hillbilly song"). The set isn't as expansive or ambitious as on Earle's 1991 live album Shut Up and Die Like an Aviator, but Earle is in better voice, and this edition of the Dukes sounds less road weary (though someone needed to get Ken Moore an electric piano that didn't sound so obviously fake). However, the recording isn't as strong as the later live disc, with the vocals echoey and pushed back in the mix and the guitars rarely cutting through the way they should; the flaws aren't fatal, but much of this sounds like it was intended for a one-time radio broadcast (which it was) rather than an archival release. The remaining tracks (from a concert at an unnamed venue in Manchester) sound a little cleaner but a bit on the flat side, though Earle and his band are once again in fine, rowdy form. Live at the BBC is the sixth authorized Steve Earle live disc to arrive in the marketplace (seventh if you include the earlier incarnation of the 1988 performance), and it's hard to tell who beyond hardcore fans will be interested at this point, but it does preserve the great songwriter on two good nights during his first run of fame, and it's more satisfying than most of the man's other concert recordings. ~ Mark Deming
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Country - Released January 1, 2005 | MCA Nashville

For those who came to know Steve Earle's music through his Warner and E Squared recordings, this triple-disc box set containing his first three MCA albums will be a revelation. It contains remastered versions of Guitar Town, which is expanded, Exit 0, and the underappreciated Copperhead Road. Steve and his band, the Dukes, rewrote the Nash Vegas books by combining hard country, singer/songwriter-style folk, and roots rock that wove acoustic and electric guitars around songs that were not formulaic or necessarily catchy to the radio-friendly ear and still scored hits. Why? Simple: form and substance over style. Earle's early recordings were all produced by Tony Brown, who slicked them up a little, but not enough to cover the rough edges. The latter two albums could have been from the same session and boasted tunes that the songwriter still plays today, including "My Old Friend the Blues," "Guitar Town," "Someday," "Angry Young Man," and the anthemic "I Ain't Ever Satisfied." Copperhead Road was a small detour in that it engaged lean and mean electric rock & roll more, but still kept its literate, earthy approach and boasted some of the finest songs of Earle's long career, including the title track and "Devil's Right Hand." Taken together, these three records all stand the test of time and make for an excellent, even necessary package. ~ Thom Jurek
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Country - Released June 16, 2017 | Warner Bros.

Steve Earle has had a problematic relationship with country music throughout his career. His roots in the Texas songwriting community and its Nashville annex run deep, but he's never had much use for the strict boundaries of style and decorum that define Music Row. Since he returned to duty in the mid-'90s after a near-fatal bout with drugs and the law, Earle has behaved more like a singer/songwriter or contemporary folk act than a country artist. In many respects, that's fitting given his body of work, but it has also cut him off from some of the qualities that made his early work so memorable as he pushes back on his twangier instincts. Perhaps Earle suddenly became eager to take a look into the past, or he was inspired by the current success of literate country outsiders like Sturgill Simpson and Jason Isbell. But for whatever reason, 2017's So You Wannabe an Outlaw is the most explicitly country record Earle has made since his bluegrass set The Mountain in 1999. Thirty-one years after Guitar Town, Earle's approach to making a country album has changed; So You Wannabe an Outlaw sounds rougher, tougher, and more spontaneous, with more than a bit of rock & roll swagger blending in with the fiddle, pedal steel, and twangy guitars. Thematically, the album covers a lot of ground that one would expect from Earle -- troubles with women ("This Is How It Ends" and "Lookin' for a Woman"), hard times ("New from Colorado," "Walkin' in LA"), living on the wrong side of societal expectations ("If Mama Could See Me" and the title cut, which features a vocal cameo from Willie Nelson), and watching fate catch up with your friends ("Goodbye Michelangelo"). Earle doesn't always sound as keenly inspired as he did when he was writing stuff like this in the '80s and '90s, but his craft is, if anything, better, and similarly his voice is showing its age but his phrasing is as smart and dramatically effective as it has ever been. So You Wannabe an Outlaw is something plenty of Steve Earle fans have been wanting for years, a no-excuses country album that updates his breakthrough work, and it's an effort that should please his core audience while also sounding like an album Earle made entirely on his own terms. ~ Mark Deming

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