- Released: October 17, 1988
- Label: MCA
Rolling Stone - p.863.5 stars out of 5
-- "Tony Brown's bright heartland-rock production provides a stark contrast to Earle's gritty lyrics....[Earle's] passionate, solo-acoustic delivery of Bruce Springsteen's 'Nebraska' is sublime."
Q (Magazine) - p.1213 stars out of 5
-- "[T]he title track and 'The Devil's Right Hand' remain Earle staples..."
Mojo (Publisher) - 6/00, p.43
"...The best of his early albums, characterized by the rock hard 'Devil's Right Hand' and 'Snake Oil'..."
Record Collector (magazine) - p.903 stars out of 5
-- "Its real strength still lies in the performances of Earle and his band, matching superbly rough-edged musicianship with heartfelt emotion in a way which brings to mind the very different but equally committed matching of Neil Young and Crazy Horse."
- 1.Copperhead Road
- 2.Snake Oil
- 3.Back To The Wall
- 4.Devil's Right Hand
- 5.Johnny Come Lately
- 6.Even When I'm Blue
- 7.You Belong To Me
- 8.Waiting On You
- 9.Once You Love
- 10.Nothing But A Child
Steve Earle was on a roll in the mid-1980s; crashing onto a dilapidated country scene with his rock-influenced vitality, he turned out three classic albums in three years. His third, COPPERHEAD ROAD, is possibly the most accomplished. Here Earle streamlines his roughneck country-rock sound for maximum impact, and hones his sociopolitical songwriting to balance perfectly with his more personal offerings. The title tune, a tale about a Vietnam-vet drug-runner, was a surprise crossover hit, widening Earle's pop profile. "Devil's Right Hand," another Earle signature tune, is as powerful an anti-gun song as you're likely to hear.
Earle was growing musically as well; he's backed by Irish folk-punks the Pogues on "Johnny Come Lately," and by bluegrass supergroup Telluride on "Nothing But a Child," hinting at the eclecticism of his later releases. With COPPERHEAD ROAD definitively proving his consistency, Earle permanently ascended into the upper echelon of American singer/songwriters, leaving the early "country Springsteen" claims behind forever.