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Blaze Foley

Oval Room – 2004 (Lost Art)

Reviewed by Ken Burke

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CDs by Blaze Foley

Previously released as "Live at the Austin Outhouse," this 18-song compilation sheds fresh perspective on cult figure Blaze Foley. A rowdy, complex character, the singer-songwriter's star never rose above the Texas bar scene, as he was shot coming to the aide of a robbery victim in 1988, 2 days after this set was taped.

The audio quality is rough, with buzzing guitar strings and clunky bar noise running rampant. Yet, Foley's sense of sad romantic resignation convincingly emanates from "Lovin' You," "My Reasons Why" and particularly reflective "For Anything Less." The respective influences of Bob Dylan and John Prine are evident in the surreal talking blues "Blaze Foley's 113th Wet Dream" and random images of "No Goodwill Stores in Waikiki." Better still are the darkly comic political ditties such as dismissive Chief Executive anthem "Oval Room," the bitterly ironic war entreaty "WWIII" and the cannibalistic Idi Amin- based parody "Springtime in Uganda."

A dubbed in studio band, led by pianist Lost John Casner and producer/slide guitarist Gurf Morlix, smartly provides unobtrusive instrumental variety to the singer's acoustic presentation. In the process, they provide potent that had he survived, Foley might have scaled the same heights as Townes Van Zandt.