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Jerry Jeff Walker

Five Years Gone – 2000 (Koch)

Reviewed by Robert Wooldridge

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CDs by Jerry Jeff Walker

Originally released on Atco in 1969, this reissue shows Jerry Jeff Walker in his pre-Austin era when his sound had more in common with the progressive rock and folk of the time than country.

The opening "Help Me Now," as well as "Janet Says" and "About Her Eyes,"recall the mellow side of the Velvet Underground, both lyrically and in Walker'svocal similarity to Lou Reed. "Blues in the Night" and "Dead Men Got No Dreams" display a folk rock influence, while closing track "Born to Dance and Sing" feels like an Arlo Guthrie ditty. A stellar cast of studio musicians accompany Walker, including Weldon Myrik (steel), Wayne Moss (guitar), Norbert Putnam (bass), David Briggs and HargisRobbins (piano) and Charlie McCoy (organ). The real gem is an early version of Walker's signature tune "Mr. Bojangles," which had been recorded in 1967 on New York radio station WBA. The liner notes describe the cut as the "famous drunken recording made early in the morning," and it features Walker and David Bromberg on acoustic guitars and includes Bob Fass of WBA at the end of the song remarking, "That was a beautiful song - you wrote that?"

In the 30 years since the release of this music, Walker has grown to legendary status in the alternative country community. This reissue shows us where the wonderful journey began.