Steve Young

Renegade Picker/No Place to Fall

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While Steve Young may be best known as "the guy who wrote that Eagles hit ("Seven Bridges Road")," he also held his own with Waylon, Willie, and the boys during the 1970s. Renegade Picker and No Place to Fall are superior mid-'70s outlaw albums, filled with splendid songs (many of them Young's), inspired performances, and, very importantly, have a real honky tonk sound. Young is a fine singer, and his resounding vocals really bite into a lyric like Willie Nelson's "It's Not Supposed to Be That Way" and Merle Haggard's "I Can't Be Myself." He also has a knack for reimagining familiar material, even material, on first glance, that may seem far afield from country. He transforms John D. Loudermilk's "Tobacco Road" into slow blues, Mentor Williams' "Drift Away" into pure country-soul, and Bob Dylan's "Don't Think Twice" into a deeply moving melodrama. Several of Young's best-known songs make an appearance across these two discs, including "Montgomery in the Rain," "Lonesome, On'ry, and Mean," and "Seven Bridges Road." As mentioned above, both albums have a superior sound and streamlined (read: non-Nashville) arrangements, allowing the guitars -- acoustic, electric, and, most importantly, steel -- to ring out cleanly in the mix. (Renegade Picker and No Place to Fall, in fact, are much closer to pure country than David Allan Coe's early Columbia albums from the same period.) It is somewhat of a cliché among Young fans to call him underrated and unsung, a lost outlaw. The availability of Renegade Picker/No Place to Fall, however, guarantees that anyone who purchases the set will soon discover just how good Young is.

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