High, Low and in Between and The Late Great Townes Van Zandt, Townes Van Zandt's two classic records from 1972, were reissued on a single CD from Capitol in 1996. High, Low and in Between, Van Zandt's fifth album, was different from his first four starting with the first few notes. The leadoff track "Two Hands" was an up-tempo gospel number featuring piano and backup vocals. Van Zandt returned to religion in the country waltz "When He Offers His Hand," sang rock & roll with a harmony vocal on "Standin'," tried a martial beat worthy of Johnny Cash on the gambling story-song "Mr. Gold and Mr. Mudd," and even turned to comedy in "No Deal." The musical variety made High, Low and in Between a more interesting listen than Van Zandt's previous work, but what made it his best album since his debut was the quality of the songs, especially "You Are Not Needed Now" and "To Live Is to Fly." By The Late Great Townes Van Zandt, his sixth album in five years, Van Zandt seemed to be getting less prolific, but his songwriting craft only improved. Van Zandt re-recorded yet another track from his debut album, "Sad Cinderella," and did three cover tunes, including one by main influence Hank Williams. But among the remaining seven new originals were "Pancho and Lefty," a sly Western story-song about two outlaws, and "If I Needed You," among his most telling romantic statements. The two songs would become valuable copyrights for Van Zandt, and they made this oddly titled album one of his best -- which was good, since, as it happened, it would be his last release for five years.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann