Steve Earle lives up to the title billing here. While some of Earle's recent work (and live shows) have inclined to excess, this disc collects lean, mean, and vital material from Earle's first three outings -- the country-rock masterpiece Guitar Town, the inward-looking Exit 0, and the angry lashing out of Copperhead Road. Essential is topped off by "Continental Trailways Blues," previously available only on a 1987 compilation. Thirteen tracks is a little skimpy; some rarities from the vaults would have been a nice touch.
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AllMusic Review by Roch Parisien