Home Read Classic Album Review: Steve Earle | Sidetracks

Classic Album Review: Steve Earle | Sidetracks

The hardcore troubadour's leftovers are better than most artist's originals.


This came out in 2002 – or at least that’s when I got it. Here’s what I said about it back then (with some minor editing):


When you record as many songs as Steve Earle does, you’re bound to have a few leftovers. And when you record as many great songs as he does, even the leftovers are bound to be pretty good.

Such is the case with Sidetracks, which collects 13 tunes that have been gathering dust in Steve’s catalog for a few years. Some are recent, like the jangly roots-rocker Some Dreams and the dusty sashay of Open Your Window. Others are older, like the alternate take of Ellis Unit One from Dead Man Walking. Some are originals, like the bittersweet ballad Me and the Eagle and the delicate bluegrass instrumental Sara’s Angel. A bunch are covers, including a skanky version of the reggae classic Johnny Too Bad, a dirge-like reading of Bob Dylan’s My Back Pages and a raw, snarling stab at Nirvana’s Breed. One thing they have in common: Even as leftovers, they’re better than most band’s finest work.