Steve Earle

BBC Radio 1 Live in Concert

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Steve Earle & the Dukes were touring the U.K. in support of the album Copperhead Road in November 1988 when they played a show at the Town and Country Club in London, and BBC Radio 1 assigned a recording crew to put the concert on tape for later broadcast. BBC Radio 1 Live in Concert captures 13 songs from Earle's set, which finds him and his band in tough, arena-ready form. The recording captures more of the ambience of the room than anyone needs, and Earle's vocals are a bit low in the mix, occasionally getting lost in the echo, but he was clearly having a good night (as were the Dukes), and the fire of his performance is communicated on disc. Most of the highlights of the set come from Copperhead Road (the title tune makes for an impressive opening salvo), but he also dips into his back catalog for some favorites from his first two albums (as well as a cover of "a perfectly good British hillbilly song," "Dead Flowers"), and sings with muscle and confidence on each track. The recording captures the ebb and flow of an unaltered live show, unlike the later concert release Shut Up and Die Like an Aviator, and it's fun to hear Earle try to deal with a drunk and talkative fan as he introduces "The Devil's Right Hand." BBC Radio 1 Live in Concert isn't the best Steve Earle live release, but it's better than most and captures him at the peak of his commercial success. (The same concert was later released on the album Live at the BBC with bonus tracks from a 1987 concert in Manchester.)

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