Shooter Jennings may not be a household name yet, the way his late daddy Waylon is, but he can rock the house and turn it inside out just as well. This 11-cut set was recorded for a Sirius Radio broadcast in the Outlaw Country series -- hosted by Jennings -- at Irving Plaza in New York City. It offers ample evidence that Jennings is a rocker who loves country music; not the other way around. Hell, Kid Rock loves country too so what's the big deal? Jennings adheres to no system, no trend, no set of rules; his .357's make the competition -- from Kenny Chesney's to Steve Earle's Dukes -- sound like pretenders. Jennings rubs people the wrong way, and given this over the top set -- introduced by none other than Little Steven -- it's easy to understand why. This is outlaw music with a capital "O." It may end up taking off, and if it does, it will be because he toured with rock & roll acts, not more subdued country artists -- Drive-By Truckers and Tim McGraw's Dancehall Doctors excepted -- although the latter might grant him the Nash Vegas introduction and acceptance he actually needs to succeed in that stilted music biz town. Rock audiences will completely get Jennings and his no BS approach to making music. Take the perfect fusion of country and balls-out rock on "Gone to Carolina," a ballad that just erupts into a guitar blast. "Busted in Baylor County" is a rollicking account of a drug bust in Texas after the band played its third gig, and digs into Black Sabbath's "Sweet Leaf," in the bridge. Yet all the hard rock careening doesn't detract from the fact that Jennings and the .357's can play country. Just check out "Lonesome Blues" and the honky tonk "Manifesto No. 2," or the garage rock-meets-honky tonk "Manifesto No. 1" and the acoustically announced "It Ain't Easy," and you'll hear not only a pedigree but an artist. Add the burning "Steady at the Wheel," and the slow tempo but over-the-top rock of "Daddy's Farm," and the show seems surreal but exhilarating, a trip into some zone that Waylon & Willie or Hank Jr. never even envisaged, but it's there. Jennings and his band may be raw, ramshackle, and garagey, but they know how to do it right. This baby smokes, offering live evidence of what the studio albums only hint at.
AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek
feat: Steven Van Zandt