From Hell to Breakfast: A Taste of Sugar Hill's Texas Singer-Songwriters
Sugar Hill CD SUG-CD-3942, 2002 (70:52)
Grand slam Texas platter
Dan Macintosh, 8 August 2002
Texans think they're pretty special. (Maybe a little too much so at times, methinks.) But when it comes to writing and playing music, they are truly gifted artists - just don't tell your Texan friends I said that. But just for your own personal reference, please take a listen to the varied and fine music contained on this particularly noteworthy collection of Texas' best.
The variety here is about as expansive as the Texas land mass. It ranges from wiseacres like Robert Earl Keen and the Bad Livers, to the silly sounds of Austin Lounge Lizards, to the dead-serious Terry Allen, Townes Van Zandt and Rodney Crowell. There's even room for James McMurtry's unique cynicism, Guy Clark's storytelling and Lee Roy Parnell's blues-i-ness. And as soon as somebody can find a category where the Gourds comfortably fit, we might be able to summarize their contributions to this collection as well. But I'm not holding my breath for that revelation.
A few of these tracks are unanimous classics, like the haunting "For the Sake of the Song" by the late Townes Van Zandt, and the rollicking closer of "The Road Goes on Forever" from Robert Earl Keen. But the rest of this sampler is relatively obscure stuff. Unless, of course, you're some kind of a Texophile.
"Topsy Turvey" should make you want to check out Rodney Crowell's latest jewel of an album, The Houston Kid, if you haven't done so already. And the harmonica-powered sounds of Lee Roy Parnell encourages me to give his music a much closer listen soon.
These songs may not be the best ones from these respected singer/songwriters - such a release would fill a few stuffed box sets, at least. But if you haven't tasted Texas musical cooking, you just haven't eaten yet, and A Taste of... may well give you a craving for the stuff for life.
songs Gone to Texas (Terry Allen) · El Paso (The Gourds) · Dreadful Selfish Crime (Robert Earl Keen) · Sis Draper (Guy Clark) · For the Sake of the Song (Townes Van Zandt) · Jaws of Life (James McMurtry) · Crossin' Over (Lee Roy Parnell) · Old Friends (Guy Clark) · Topsy Turvey (Rodney Crowell) · Ghosts of Hallelujah (The Gourds) · Lumpy, Beanpole & Dirt (Bad Livers) · Amazing Highway (Terry Allen) · Old Blevins (Austin Lounge Lizards) · Snowin' on Raton (Townes Van Zandt) · The Road Goes on Forever (Robert Earl Keen.)