Townes Van Zandt In Pain

Since Townes's death three years ago, folks have been scouring the vaults looking for releasable material, and thus we have this 16-track disc recorded live in Europe between '94 and '96. Oddly, the applause and between song banter - the latter nearly worth the cover charge alone - have been edited out with some extremely quick fades, removing much of the charm of a live recording. No matter, we still have those disarmingly simple songs and Van Zandt's homely, lived-in voice. The songs, full of melancholy, are poetic, but not arty; Townes's lyrics had an uncanny reality to them no matter how poetic they got. His "big hits" like "Pancho And Lefty" are not here, but we do get a nice mix of lesser known songs along with the higher profile ones like "Buckskin Stallion Blues," "Highway Kind," "Rex's Blues" and "White Freight Liner." The last three tracks are covers from the Walkabouts, ("Stopping Off Place"), Hank Williams, Sr. ("Alone And Forsaken"), and Mississippi Fred McDowell ("You Gotta Move"). They're no match for his original material, at least not the versions that precede them here. And despite the possibility of vault plundering, the sheer quality and charm of both the songs and performance make this an enjoyable, if not essential collection. (Normal)