Steve Earle / Supersuckers

Steve Earle & the Supersuckers

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The Supersuckers decided to up the country ante during the recording of their fourth album, Must've Been High, turning themselves into some kind of genuine cowpunks (the group was always punkier and rowdier than any '80s cowpunk outfit). So, it was only fitting that the band followed the album with a split-single with the punkiest country singer of the '80s, Steve Earle. In classic Sub Pop tradition -- think the classic Mudhoney/Jimmie Dale Gilmore split single, in particular, but there are loads others -- the Suckers tackle an Earle song ("Angel Is the Devil") and Earle covers one of their tunes ("Creepy Jackalope Eye"), then after a joint cover (the Rolling Stones' "Before They Make Me Run," the definitive Keith Richards anthem), the originals are offered up. Earle does better with "Creepy Jackalope Eye" than the Suckers do with "Angel Is the Devil," though it could be argued from the originals that he had more to work with than the band. Unfortunately, they manage to tame "Before They Make Me Run," taking it slower than it needs to be and truncating the original riff. Which leaves the single as a mixed bag -- a good cover and original from Earle, a good original from the Supersuckers, and a pair of so-so covers. Not a terrible average, but not a great one, either.

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