Billy Joe Shaver

Live at Billy Bob's Texas

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When it comes to the vast majority of recording artists, the answer to the question, "how many officially released live albums do I really need," carries a simple answer: zero to one. In Billy Joe Shaver's case, the question doesn't even apply. Really, just ask any fan. Though far from a household name, Shaver is revered internationally for a catalog of songs that has been covered by an astonishing array of other artists, from rockers to country artists to jazz musicians and soul singers, though none of the cover versions of his songs do justice to his own live performances. Each Shaver performance is different, for almost inexplicable reasons. Whether playing alone or with a band, the combination of hard-earned humility, world weariness, spirituality, genuine compassion, rebelliousness, honesty, and a refusal to despair no matter the tragedy, pours forth from when he takes the stage and begins to sing. Live at Billy Bob's Texas, is a CD/DVD package recorded and taped at the Forth Worth venue (the world's largest honky tonk) on September 17, 2011. It features virtually all of his classic songs and a pair of new ones. Backed by lead guitarist Jeremy Lynn Woodall, bassist Matt Davis, and drummer Jason McKenzie, Shaver takes fans through a solid, often chilling set of stellar performances that run the gamut of Texas country, hard rocking honky tonk, and folk. For a man in his early seventies, he is in excellent voice. Check the effortless slide through his range on "Honky Tonk Heroes," the disciplined plaintive restraint in "Old Five and Dimers Like Me," and the command of authority that gospel demands in "Live Forever." But nowhere is Shaver's voice more effective than in one of the new songs, the a cappella "Star in My Heart," that is so tender it actually hurts. The other new track here, "Wacko from Waco," is a humorous account of his then-recent legal troubles that features a Johnny Cash-esque vamp. The video looks excellent and is worth seeing more than once, simply for the kind of awe and devotion the man inspires in his audience, as much as for the riveting performance. Billy Joe Shaver is one of a kind, and this set proves it; it makes an excellent introduction for anyone not familiar with his singular talent.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 4:20 Amazon
2 3:15 Amazon
3 3:12 Amazon
4 3:35 Amazon
5 2:25 Amazon
6 2:19 Amazon
7 2:34 Amazon
8 1:35 Amazon
9 2:56 Amazon
10 5:02 Amazon
11 4:54 Amazon
12 2:59 Amazon
13 3:30 Amazon
14 2:16 Amazon
15 1:36 Amazon
16 4:01 Amazon
17 2:25 Amazon
18 2:07 Amazon
19 3:26 Amazon
20 4:06 Amazon
21 3:05 Amazon
22 4:00 Amazon

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1
blue highlight denotes track pick