Townes Van Zandt

The Anthology: 1968-1979 [Varese]

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Singer/songwriter Townes Van Zandt has become a legendary cult figure for a combination of things: for writing some of the most honest, heartfelt countrified pop ballads since Gram Parsons, and for dying young due to a combination of alcoholism and hard living. Like the music of his idol, Hank Williams, and the aforementioned Parsons, Van Zandt's music has served as inspiration to the next generation of gritty, personal songwriters, and the reasons why can be found in Varese's thorough Anthology: 1968-1979. Beginning with Van Zandt's early forays into sparse folky confessions and moving through his darker, even more personal country arrangements, this two-disc collection supplies the listener with an excellent introduction to his "hits" ("If I Needed You," "For the Sake of the Song," "Pancho and Lefty") as well as a look at some of his lesser-recognized gems ("Come Tomorrow," "High, Low and in Between," "No Lonesome Tune"). His voice was never hailed as being flawless, and he never claimed to be a guitar virtuoso, but his songwriting has proven to be an inspiration to artists throughout the last quarter century. Van Zandt kept recording throughout the '80s and '90s, continuing to tour until his death in 1997 and, while there are certainly worthwhile moments in those 20 years, the majority of his truly noteworthy output is represented here. Anyone curious about this legendary cult figure will find this anthology an eye-opening introduction, while longtime Townes fans will delight in having all of these classics on one collection. [The same songs delivered with different packaging were originally issued by Charly Records with the identical title in 1998.]

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