A Man Must Carry On is Jerry Jeff Walker with the Lost Gonzo Band and some poet friends, Willie Nelson, and a bunch of folks. Some of it is live in front of an audience, some of it is in the studio, and some of it is a mess. And thank goodness. Released at the dawn of punk rock -- though most folks had no idea until 1980 or so -- A Man Must Carry On was Jerry Jeff and producer Michael Brovsky doing what they did best, throwin' stuff at the wall to see what stuck. Most of this does. The live material is truly fine, wooly and free-flowing. It's worth the purchase price for side four alone: "Mr. Bojangles; "LA Freeway"; a rock & roll medley of "Sea Cruise," "Johnny B. Goode," and "Peggy Sue"; a version of Dylan's "One Too Many Mornings"; and rounded off with the profane and the sacred: Ray Wylie Hubbard's anthem "Up Against the Wall Redneck Mother," which gives way to the Carters' "Will the Circle Be Unbroken." Talk about immediacy, spontaneity, and energy...screw the Sex Pistols. Other treasures include deeply moving renditions of "Honky Tonk Music" and "Railroad Lady" by Walker and Jimmy Buffett. The latter was actually cut by Merle Haggard! But the uncovering of it all is the place near the end of side three when Hondo Crouch, an infamous mayor of a small Texas town, gets up and reads his cowboy poetry in his unwavering, aged voice. Where else but on a Jerry Jeff Walker record could you get hillbilly music, live rock & roll, and performance art along with spirituals?
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AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek