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Steve Earle

Copperhead Road deluxe edition – 2008 (UME)

Reviewed by Rick Teverbaugh

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CDs by Steve Earle

Fortunately, the album "Copperhead Road" has had a better 20 years than its author, Steve Earle. While Earle dealt with his own professional and personal demons, which included a stint in prison, his 1988 release sounds as vital in this special reissue as it did two decades ago.

This two-disc set captures the studio Earle of that period intact just as "Copperhead Road" was originally released. Besides the title cut, which was and still is a radio fixture, there is "The Devil's Right Hand," covered by Waylon Jennings, "You Belong To Me" and "Johnny Come Lately," which features help from Irish band The Pogues.

But most of his fans and many roots rock aficionados already have that studio disc. Disc 2 has 17 lives cuts, 11 unreleased. Those cuts were recorded in Raleigh, N.C. the year before "Copperhead" came out. Highlights of the new live material are Gram Parsons' "Wheels" and Rodney Crowell's "Brown And Root." Also interesting is his dialogue with the audience between songs. The live material is presented as-is complete with feedback, making it feel authentic.

Fortunately, Earle has made a startling comeback from the time period captured on this two-disc set. He even earned a Grammy in 2004. "Copperhead Road" still stands tall as a landmark album and deserving of this special edition.