Sunday, December 4, 2022

Steve Young - Renegade Picker / No Place to Fall (1976/78 us, brilliant singer songwriter, double disc remaster)

While Steve Young may be best known as "the guy who wrote that Eagles hit ("Seven Bridges Road")," he also held his own with Waylon, Willie, and the boys during the 1970s. Renegade Picker and No Place to Fall are superior mid-'70s outlaw albums, filled with splendid songs (many of them Young's), inspired performances, and, very importantly, have a real honky tonk sound. Young is a fine singer, and his resounding vocals really bite into a lyric like Willie Nelson's "It's Not Supposed to Be That Way" and Merle Haggard's "I Can't Be Myself." He also has a knack for reimagining familiar material, even material, on first glance, that may seem far afield from country. 

He transforms John D. Loudermilk's "Tobacco Road" into slow blues, Mentor Williams' "Drift Away" into pure country-soul, and Bob Dylan's "Don't Think Twice" into a deeply moving melodrama. Several of Young's best-known songs make an appearance across these two discs, including "Montgomery in the Rain," "Lonesome, On'ry, and Mean," and "Seven Bridges Road." As mentioned above, both albums have a superior sound and streamlined (read: non-Nashville) arrangements, allowing the guitars -- acoustic, electric, and, most importantly, steel -- to ring out cleanly in the mix. (Renegade Picker and No Place to Fall, in fact, are much closer to pure country than David Allan Coe's early Columbia albums from the same period.) It is somewhat of a cliché among Young fans to call him underrated and unsung, a lost outlaw. The availability of Renegade Picker/No Place to Fall, however, guarantees that anyone who purchases the set will soon discover just how good Young is. 
by Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.

Issued in 1978, No Place to Fall is, regrettably, the second and last album for RCA. Like its predecessor, Renegade Picker, Young's ever-evolving music is centered in the heart of outlaw country this time out, though there are, as usual, interesting twists and turns. The band is stellar, with Buddy Emmons and Buddy Spicher, Tracy Nelson, Jerry Shook, Dale Sellers, and a bunch of guitar pickers, as well as drummer Kenny Malone, among others. The material is noteworthy on many levels, not the least of which is Young's decision to record, for the third time, "Montgomery in the Rain" and "Seven Bridges Road." Once more, he reinvents both songs, fills them out, adds different textures and stresses, and as a result, in the grain of his voice the meanings widen and deepen. The title track was written by the late Townes Van Zandt, and Young's read is damn near definitive, with layers of guitars haunting the middle of the tune and his own voice carrying the lonely edge of Van Zandt's lyric into oblivion. 

In addition, Young delves deep into Okie blues with a barbed-wire-and-whiskey cover of J.J. Cale's "Same Old Blues," with stunning slide guitar work. But it is in the cover of Mentor Williams' composition "Drift Away" -- the multi-million-seller recorded by Dobie Gray -- that Young offers his greatest surprise. This is a soul song, performed by a soul singer originally, and here Young, while keeping the song's intent essentially the same, transforms it into a country prayer. The same can be said for his loose cover of Dylan's "Don't Think Twice It's Alright"; Young reworks the melody slightly while emphasizing different parts of the lyric as the band fills in the cracks to bring an entirely new light to the song. No Place to Fall failed ultimately to sell, but it did a great deal to bolster his confidence as both a bandleader and as a producer. Young is a survivor, albeit on the fringes; he is one of the few whose records are so consistent as to be essential listening for anyone interested in late 20th century country music and rock 'n' roll. 
by Thom Jurek
Disc 1
1. Renegade Picker - 3:13
2. I Can't Be Myself (Merle Haggard) - 3:19
3. Old Memories (Mean Nothing To Me) - 3:18
4. It's Not Supposed To Be That Way (Willie Nelson) - 3:44
5. Tobacco Road (John D. Loudermilk) - 3:45
6. Light Of My Life - 4:08
7. Lonesome, On'ry And Mean - 3:18
8. All Her Lovers Want To Be The Hero - 3:30
9. Broken Hearted People (Take Me To A Barroom) (Guy Clark) - 4:11
10.Sweet Thing (Buddy Starcher) - 2:56
11.Home Sweet Home (Revisited) (Rodney Crowell) - 5:58
Disc 2
1. No Place To Fall (Townes Van Zandt) - 4:02
2. Montgomery In The Rain - 4:28
3. Dreamer - 3:44
4. Always Loving You - 4:54
5. Drift Away (Mentor Williams) - 4:33
6. Seven Bridges Road - 4:53
7. I Closed My Heart's Door (Ralph Jones, Stoney Cooper) - 4:56
8. Don't Think Twice It's All Right (Bob Dylan) - 4:09
9. I Can't Sleep (Steve Goodman) - 3:45
10.I've Got The Same Old Blues (J.J. Cale) - 2:26

1976  Renegade Picker
*Steve Young - Guitar, Vocals
*Johnny Gimble - Mandolin, Violin
*Buddy Emmons - Steel Guitar
*Jerry Shook - Guitar, Harmonica
*Mike Leech - Bass
*Bobby Wood - Keyboards
*Dale Sellars - Guitar
*Terry Mcmillan - Harmonica
*Mac Gayden - Guitar
*Karl Himmel - Drums
*Tracy Nelson - Vocals
*Kim Young - Vocals
*Kimberly Morrison-Cole - Vocals
*Anita Ball - Vocals

1978  No Place To Fall
*Steve Young - Guitar, Vocals
*Buddy Spicher - Violin
*Buddy Emmons - Steel Guitar
*Lloyd Green - Steel Guitar
*Jerry Shook - Guitar, Harmonica
*Joseph Allen - Bass
*Mike Leech - Bass
*Charles Cochran - Keyboards
*Kristin Wilkinson - Viola
*Larry Byrom - Guitar
*Jimmy Colvard - Guitar
*David Kirby - Guitar
*Dale Sellers - Guitar
*Charlie McCoy - Harmonica
*Mac Gayden - Guitar
*Karl Himmel - Drums
*Kenny Malone - Drums
*Tracy Nelson - Vocals
*Kim Young - Vocals

1968  Stone Country - Stone Country
1969  Steve Young - Rock Salt And Nails (2010 korean remaster)