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Classic Album Review: Steve Earle & The Del McCoury Band | The Mountain

This superb collaboration between the roots rebel & the bluegrass vet is a perfect fit.

This came out in 1999 – or at least that’s when I got it. Here’s what I said about it back then (with some minor editing):


“If you wanna be in the band, you gotta put your hat on,” teases Steve Earle as he plunks the Mickey Mouse Club theme to open this disc. He oughta know.

While never straying too far from his rootsy roots, he’s gone through a few creative hats lately. His latest? Bluegrass — and judging by this superlative collaboration with bluegrass vet Del McCoury and co., it’s a perfect fit. Aiming for the high lonesome sound of the iconic Bill Monroe, the musicians unplug the amps, pack up the drums, tune up the banjos and pitch a hootenanny. As the mandolins flutter and the fiddles fly, Steve rasps a slate of haunting, rough-hewn murder ballads featuring outlaws, trains, miners, graveyard shifts and broken dreams. This ain’t no Mickey Mouse operation.