Keepers is the first live album Guy Clark has ever released. Recorded in 1996 in front of a small audience in an intimate venue (Daniel's Corner in Nash Vegas), it showcases Clark with a full band playing his best-loved songs. While that might seem like an easy way out for some, it's not for Clark, who pushes these songs -- despite his easy, laid-back demeanor -- to the breaking point in terms of meaning and emotional truth. With a band consisting of Verlon Thompson and Darrell Scott on guitars (Scott also plays virtually everything with strings except fiddle), Suzy Ragsdale (not only singing backup, but playing accordion), Kenny Malone, and bassist Travis Clark, Guy uses his material as a way of communicating something quite mercurial yet universally felt with his audience. Opening with a fine, drinking song rendition of "L.A. Freeway," Clark pulls out the stops from the word "go" and travels all over his career map, from "Texas, 1947," "Like a Coat From the Cold" (which is chilling in its amorous simplicity), "Heartbroke," "Last Gunfighter Ballad," "Better Days," and "Homegrown Tomatoes," before catching a breath -- though none of these songs seem rushed. Miles Wilkinson's live mix is spot-on and flat, allowing for the natural dynamics in the music to come across, and it translates well to CD. The second half of the program features "She Ain't Goin Nowhere," "South Coast of Texas," "Let Him Roll," "Texas Cookin'," a new track called "Out in the Parking Lot," and a few others, including a rousing, deeply moving rendition of "Desperados Waiting for a Train." In sum, it's a better greatest-hits record than any available, since all the songs come from one source, and it's a fine example of how live records should be made.
by Thom Jurek