Dwight Yoakam

Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc., Etc.

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Dwight Yoakam's Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc., Etc. began as an EP issued on the California Oak label. When Reprise signed him, they added four more tracks to the mix to round it out as an album. Yoakam, a Kentuckian, brought country music back into its own medium by reviving the classic Bakersfield sound with the help of his producer and lead guitarist, former Detroiter Pete Anderson. As a result, the "new traditionalist" movement was born, but Yoakam was always a cut or three above the rest, as this album displays in spades. Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc., Etc. kicks off with a smoking cover of Johnny Horton's "Honky Tonk Man," a song now so closely associated with Yoakam, the original has all but been forgotten. But this is only the beginning. Yoakam's own songs such as "Bury Me," a duet with Maria McKee, and "South of Cincinnati" reference both the pastoral and dark sides of his native state. "South of Cincinnati" is a paean to those who left Kentucky for Ohio in search of jobs, and "Bury Me" celebrates the land itself. In addition, the title track, with Anderson's Don Rich-influenced guitar style, walks the Buck Owens line until the line extends to Yoakam. With fiddles and backing vocals, Yoakam's street poetry is both poignant and profound, built into a barroom anthem. In addition to this there is the gorgeous "Miner's Prayer," an acoustic number powered by dobro (courtesy of David Mansfield), flat-picked guitar, and Yoakam's singing of his grandfather and generations like him who lived and died in the mines of Kentucky. Here Bill Monroe meets Ralph Stanley meets Bob Dylan. In the grain of Yoakam's voice there isn't one hint of irony, only empathy and raw emotion. Yoakam also does a more than acceptable version of June Carter's "Ring of Fire," the "Cherokee" of country music -- meaning that if you can play it and pull it off, you're taken seriously by the veterans. The album closes with the Harlan Howard classic "Heartaches by the Number." Because of Ed Black's steel playing, Brantley Kearns' fiddle, and Anderson's guitar, the accompaniment is stronger and far edgier than the Ray Price version, but from Yoakam's throat comes an entirely different story than Price's. In Price's case the song was a plea; in Yoakam's it's a statement of fact. An astonishing debut, Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc., Etc. changed the face of country music single-handedly and remains one hell of a party record.

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