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Title - 'Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc., Etc. - 20th Ann. Ed.'
Artist - Dwight Yoakam

Back in 1990, this was Dwight Yoakam's major label debut album. He previously had released an independent label album, which had several of the same songs that are on this one. (Good luck finding a copy of THAT album, remastered or otherwise!) On the original, Dwight wrote seven of the ten songs himself. The remaining three songs were covers of Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire", Ray Price's "Heartaches By the Number" and Johnny Horton's "Honky Tonk Man" (which became Yoakam's first hit). Out of Dwight's original songs, "Guitars, Cadillacs" was a big hit and "It Won't Hurt" was a minor hit. Yoakam was a breath of fresh air at the time this album came out, playing a more traditional "honky tonk" sound, at a time when Nashville was embracing a slick "urban cowboy" sound. This is a solid debut album by an important artist. One peculiar thing about the album is that it ends with Marlon Brando asking "What Indian reservation is this?" And now we find ourselves in 2006 and we find that we have three different albums/eras all mixing now in this wonderful 2-disc set. Though most of these recordings have previously been anthologized, this new set puts Dwight Yoakam's emergence and progression from the roots-punk circuit to the country mainstream in context. It begins with the 1981 demos that earned him a recording contract, showing that his artistry as a retro-hillbilly honky-tonker was already in full bloom, with both his singing and his songwriting conjuring an era that otherwise seemed long gone. For Yoakam completists, the real treat here is disc two, a 1986 performance in the wake of that album at Hollywood's Roxy (not exactly your typical honky-tonk). With nine of the twelve tracks previously unreleased, Yoakam acknowledges a debt to Buck Owens, Merle Haggard, and the Bakersfield sound on "Guitars, Cadillacs"; pays tribute to the influence of John Fogerty and Emmylou Harris, apparently both in the audience, before "Mystery Train"; and then barely stops for breath before blazing into Johnny Cash's aforementioned "Ring of Fire." The urgency of the live-wire performance makes it easy to see why the rock crowd embraced him first, but he ultimately compromised little as he conquered the country airwaves as well.

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