Billy Joe Shaver

Live from Austin, TX

  • AllMusic Rating
  • User Ratings (0)
  • Your Rating

AllMusic Review by

Essentially, Billy Joe Shaver's Live from Austin Texas is a reissue of the DVD New West released in 2006, with a compact disc added as a companion piece. This Austin City Limits show from 1984 presented Billy Joe and his then-22-year-old guitar-wizard son Eddy (now deceased), and the rhythm section of Kenny Hoelscher on bass and drummer Jimmy Lester. Together they offer a sublime 15-song set loaded with Shaver classics: "Ride Me Down Easy," "I Been to Georgia on a Fast Train," "Willy the Wandering Gypsy and Me," "I'm Just an Old Chunk of Coal," and "Old Five and Dimers Like Me" are among their number. But it's not just a Shaver best-of that makes this such a sublime document: it's the interaction of Eddy's guitar playing with his dad's songs, and the sheer pride and joy the songwriter is experiencing -- in the moment -- at having his son on-stage with him. Eddy isn't as given to overplaying as he was at later times in his life. His licks and fills are intuitive, inspired, and full of emotion, underscoring Billy Joe's every line with bluesy authority. (Check his killer solos and "Street Walkin' Woman.") The rhythm section is solid; they keep it swinging and strolling and in the pocket. While some of these songs are more uptempo than the studio originals, they are served exceptionally well by their treatment here. One listen to the performance of "Oklahoma Wind" near the end of the set is easily the best recorded version we have, and is worth the price of admission alone. For those who've already purchased the DVD, this may or may not be worth investing in again. For anyone who hasn't, this is easily the most essential Shaver live document out there. One can hear in Billy Joe's voice none of the worldweariness that has haunted it since Eddy's death; it's full of hope and hunger. This particular group was the perfect vehicle to get his songs across, not just to an Austin City Limits audience, but to those across America via its public television affiliates.

blue highlight denotes track pick