Solo performer: Townes Van Zandt (vocals, acoustic guitar).
Producer: Earl Willis.
Reissue producer: Kevin Calabro, Katja Maas.
Recorded live at the Old Quarter, Houston, Texas in July 1973. Includes liner notes by Chet Flippo.
All tracks have been digitally remastered.
From the opening club announcements about the locations of the bathrooms to the smattering of applause when the artist is announced, you know this is not a standard live recording. Low-key and basic as an artist can be, Townes Van Zandt proves that a man and his guitar can easily compete against a rowdy honky-tonk crowd with a plaintive voice, incisive songs and mesmerizing style.
He starts the concert by apologizing for the air conditioning being turned off, and then immediately cools the crowd off with his much-covered, icy Western narrative "Pancho & Lefty." Culled from Van Zandt's years of independently released country-folk records, the austere collection of songs here serves, in effect, as a greatest-hits package, albeit with glitches, errant noises, goofy jokes and witty anecdotes. Van Zandt's dry, narrative wit was the source of influence for such singer-songwriters as Lyle Lovett, but one would be hard-pressed to find a more simple, prettier love song than "If I Needed You" (a hit for Emmylou Harris) or a more riveting ballad than "Kathleen," both sung with focused precision. The Old Quarter falls as silent as a church.
"Brand New Companion" shows off Van Zandt's blues-picking expertise. "Talking Thunderbird Blues" demonstrates his wit. One of his best creations, "For The Sake Of The Song," shows off his poetic strength.
This is the place to start if you are just entering the parched, spare domain of Townes Van Zandt. By album's end, you will be thirsty for more.