Recommendations for Clark/Ely/Hiatt/Lovett?
January 14, 2007 5:24 PM   Subscribe

Last night, I attended a concert featuring Lyle Lovett, John Hiatt, Joe Ely, and Guy Clark. It was just the four of them and their guitars. It was awsome, and now I'm looking for recommendations.

I have lots of Lyle Lovett, and have heard some Guy Clark (on the Heartworn Highways soundtrack, for instance). I want to become more familair with Hiatt, Ely, and Clark. They have such extensive bodies of work - I'm not sure where to start. Can anyone recommend albums that are likely to be similar to what I experienced last night (i.e. solo performances, preferably, but not necessarily, acuostic)? Thanks!
posted by dpx.mfx to Media & Arts (23 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
I got to know Joe Ely's music when I was working for a small Texas country station in the late seventies. Loved his stuff then, and I can't help but imagine he's influenced Lyle and John.

There's a compilation album available on Amazon combining two very good albums from 1977 & 78.
posted by michswiss at 5:44 PM on January 14, 2007

I don't know much about Guy Clark, but I am in love with the album, "Together at the Bluebird Cafe", which features Clark, Steve Earle, and Townes Van Zandt (one of my favorite musicians & the reason I have the album) in a live performance.
posted by eunoia at 5:48 PM on January 14, 2007 [1 favorite]

Try Dwight Yoakam's (which is the name of an album, not a website (link goes to Amazon)). It's a bunch of Yoakam's songs, redone with just him and a guitar.

There are drastic differences between various things that are all referred to as "country", and some of them give the whole mess a very bad name. Yoakam is not one of those - he's an example of what's good about country. Singer/songwriter/roots Americana/genre transcending, rather than top 40 pop country pap.

Other suggestions:

Dave Alvin. Start with Public Domain: Songs from the Wild Land - sounds like it might be up your alley. It's a collection of old (and I mean old) American songs, all given new life by Alvin.

A little further away from the "solo performances, preferably, but not necessarily, acoustic" request, but still quite possibly something you might enjoy, if singer/songwriter/roots/genre transcending appeals to you:

Steve Earle. Start with, say, Transcendental Blues

And finally, there is probably no need to say this, but if you haven't tried these lready, then for the love of god, Johnny Cash's later recordings, from his American Recordings days. Start with the first (American Recordings) and go all the way through to American V: A Hundred Highways.

If you don't wind up absolutely loving Johnny Cash, I'm sorry, but I'm going to have to disown you.
posted by Flunkie at 5:50 PM on January 14, 2007

Flunkie: Johnny Cash I have covered. He brought me and my husband together. Dwight I've got covered, too, but I hadn't checked out that new album yet. Dave Alvin looks interesting.

Eunoia: That looks awsome. Thanks.

I meant to link Heartworn Highways which is an awsome awsome CD -- the DVD that goes with it is also worth a viewing.
posted by dpx.mfx at 6:00 PM on January 14, 2007

John Hiatt's a tricky beast. His music varies pretty wildly depending on who's producing his albums. I've always found the Trouser Press Record Guide's entry for him to be pretty handy, if not 100% up-to-date.

And I would be morally remiss if I didn't mention Freedy Johnston. Most people swear by Can You Fly and This Perfect World, although I love everything he's done.
posted by mykescipark at 6:17 PM on January 14, 2007

I love John Hiatt & have a ton of his stuff. You could do worse than starting with Crossing Muddy Waters with Walk On running a close second.
posted by mygothlaundry at 6:20 PM on January 14, 2007

I like these American artists a lot, and I feel you'd be happy by adding Townes Van Zandt (already recommended) and Jimmie Dale Gilmore to your list. Also the Flatlanders - a band with Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Joe Ely and Butch Hancock (all of whom went on to greater solo fame) is a good choice - "More A Legend Than A Band" is the one to get. I didn't grow up with music like this at all, but I found it immediately compelling, so I'll vouch for the universal beauty of it all.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 6:25 PM on January 14, 2007

Oh, and if you're not familiar with him, you may also like James McMurtry, my great true love, the man whose walked on ground I worship. There's a free download of his great protest song from last year on his site too. Also, check your email.
posted by mygothlaundry at 6:29 PM on January 14, 2007

For John Hiatt I'll second Crossing Muddy Waters and I'd also add The Tiki Bar to Walk on.
posted by Gungho at 6:40 PM on January 14, 2007

Thanks for asking this. Looks like I'm going to be buying a bunch of new albums.
posted by Flunkie at 6:41 PM on January 14, 2007

John Hiatt was pretty spotty until his eighth album, 1987's Bring the Family, which is great. (Bonnie Raitt covered "Thing Called Love.") Y'All Caught? is a nice overview of his career before that, but get some of his regular albums first. His tenth album, 2000's Stolen Moments, is also great.

Slow Turning and Perfectly Good Guitar are also good, in addition to the ones people have already mentioned.

Little Village (a supergroup with Nick Lowe, Ry Cooder, and Jim Keltner, who all recorded Bring the Family) and Little Head are both bad.
posted by kirkaracha at 6:58 PM on January 14, 2007

Okay, to help other people who might be reading this, if we're talking about other people to check out, I have to mention Terry Allen, whose Lubbock (on everything) is awsome.
posted by dpx.mfx at 7:04 PM on January 14, 2007

Another recommendation: Buddy Miller. I became enamored of him when I saw him a couple times in Emmylous Harris' backup band. I've got Universal United House of Prayer and Cruel Moon, both of which I love to death.
posted by booth at 7:11 PM on January 14, 2007

I've seen them all together twice (both times in Redwood City, CA), and the shows were amazing. For Hiatt, I'll third Crossing Muddy Waters.

Perhaps the best match for that show's style is Greg Brown's "The Live One" CD. (link) You're guaranteed to love it.

Stylistically different, but similarly excellent is Josh Ritter. I like Hello Starling and The Animal Years best (they aren't live or solo), but he recently released an EP of solo demo songs called Girl in the War, which is excellent.
posted by pmbuko at 7:18 PM on January 14, 2007

Joe Ely is just a tremendous performer. You didn't say where you caught this show, but I'm guessing you may be in Texas 'cause I hadn't heard anything about these guys touring together. If so, you're in for a treat– Ely plays around Austin pretty constantly, and I can't imagine someone I'd like more to see over and over.

Ely sometimes plays with a masterful pedal steel player named Lloyd Maines, who is definitely worth seeing. The last few years he's added a phenomenal accordian player whose name escapes me, darn. Anyway, my favorite recording of his is 'Live at Antones', it's worth picking up.

Oh, and probably the most amazing I ever saw him was at Bumbershoot, in Seattle. Not a whole lot of people there knew his work (I'm guessing), and he was playing solo, at the Mural amphitheater, before a crowd of over a thousand ('cause Bumbershoot's cheap and tends to draw big crowds). Ely's a little guy, who doesn't play guitar all that well and has a limited voice. His songs are pretty damn simple, too- but he had that crowd eating out of the palm of his hand and he did it by pure FORCE OF WILL. Damn, what a performer.
posted by carterk at 8:06 PM on January 14, 2007

i'm a huge guy clark fan, if you enjoy his work you should look up jimmy dale gilmore
posted by nola at 9:50 PM on January 14, 2007

carterk - I'm actually in Cincinnati, and the 4 are touring all over this year. But I have ever intention of heading to Texas to see Ely. And Terry Allen. And the Weary Boys. And Dale Watson. I have this dream that the stars align and I can come to Austin and see them all in one fell swoop!!
posted by dpx.mfx at 10:02 PM on January 14, 2007

You'd probably dig Gram Parsons.
posted by padraigin at 10:19 PM on January 14, 2007

What a sausage fest!

You should check out Emmylou Harris (Quarter Moon in a Ten Cent Town) is a modern classic. And Lucinda Williams.

And I'm crazy about Willie Nelson's album Teatro these days.
posted by felix betachat at 11:35 PM on January 14, 2007

Seconding Hiatt's Bring the Family.

You might also like T Bone Burnett. He's better known as a producer, but all his solo albums, as well as "The B-52 Band and the Fabulous Skylarks" (released under the name J. Henry Burnett), are great.
posted by staggernation at 8:06 AM on January 15, 2007

If you are so inclined, I recommend going over to All Music and take a gander at what they have to say about those artists and look at the in-depth reviews/bios.

I found Guy Clark just last year really, at Merlefest. He forgot some words and was distracted easily, but I still thought he was great. I picked up Old No. 1 and haven't been disappointed. Desperadoes Waiting for a Train and Texas, 1947 are fantastic songs.

Good luck!
posted by DonnieSticks at 3:42 PM on January 15, 2007

Godawmighty, where to start....Lyle Lovett's 2-disc 'Step Inside This House'. He covers tunes by(other recommended artists) Townes Van Zant, David Rodriguez, Guy Clark,Willis Alan Ramsey, Michael Martin Murphey, Ray Wiley Hubbard, Steven Fromholz, and others. They are all so practically related, it's unlikely that you would like Lyle and not love any of these artists. It's a good album to get a 'taste' of a bunch of gooduns. Not unlike the KGSR Broadcasts CDs; in fact, for those of you who don't have the good fortune to have them available for purchase everywhere you go in Austin during Xmas season, look on Ebay. They produce a limited run every year, all proceeds going to charity, and all the tracks recorded either in the KGSR studio or at one of the various clubs around town where the artists have a show. Not that this is solid proof of the quality, but copies of Broadcasts Volume 1(this year was Vol.13) have sold on Ebay for $100+. Even if you can't buy one, look them up and consider it my 'recommended artists' list.

Have fun! Geez, I envy you, getting to hear all these guys for the first time, hopefully getting the same "WOW!" I got.....
posted by pipesplus at 6:30 PM on January 15, 2007

I have to recommend to two newest albums by Guy Clark. "The Dark" and "Workbench Songs" are two solid albums from start to finish. Guy's chops haven't ebbed one bit over the years (I think he's gotten even better).

I remember when I first saw Guy live, and it truly is a special moment.
posted by bartinpc at 1:20 PM on January 22, 2007

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