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Half Wasted on Me; Half Fantastic
Copperhead Road
Steve Earle
I have seen LPs/Cds with as good or better material and worse track sequencing than this one -- Warren Zevon's "Excitable Boy" comes to mind -- but since the day i bought my first copy of this album (i recently replaced it after someone decided that they needed the original copy more than i did), back in '88 or so, to this day, i doubt if i have listened to any of cuts 6 - 10 even once for a hundred or more spins of the first five.

I suppose this is because the album is a bit split-personalitied; what would be Side One of an LP is mostly tracks that Rock Out: "Johnny Come Lately" (with backing by the Pogues) and the title track both center, in elliptical fashion, on the Viet Nam experience; "The Devil's Right Hand", a hard-rockin' ode to Col. Colt's products, sounds as if it ought to be the theme music for a *good* spaghetti western, and "Snake Oil", a late-Reagan-era meditation on hucksterism and the short con, is funny and cautionary at the same time.

But then we have "Side Two" (so to speak) and pretty much a set of five generic Nashville-country songs that have left no real impression on my mind, even over twelve years...But the first half is plenty good to qualify the album as a whole for three stars, and so i have rated it.

Most of those reading this review will know the story of Earle's subsequent crash, rehab and triumphant comeback -- if all you've really listened to of his work is his later stuff, give this one a try and let him rev you up...