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Music review: Steve Earle receives box-set treatment he deserves

Published June 25, 2013 8:52 am

STEVE EARLE: HARD-CORE TROUBADOUR
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Grade • A

CD/DVD • In 1993, Steve Earle was promising singer-songwriter whose 1998 album "Copperhead Road" had offered tantalizing promises of what would happen when country music looted and pillaged the best elements of rock.

But that same year, he was arrested for possession of heroin, and in 1994, for cocaine. A judge sentenced him to jail and treatment, and when inside, he was not allowed possession of his lifelong crutch, a guitar. The three albums — 1995's "Train A Comin'," 1996's "I'm Alright" and 1997's "El Corazon" — are included with a live CD and DVD on a box set called "Steve Earle: The Warner Bros. Years" that embody the hunger, and pain, of someone who will be haunted by his demons for the rest of his life.

That prolific period offers the best music he had written before or since, and included all of the things that he would explore more thoroughly in future years, from Celtic rock to bluegrass, old-timey music to plaintive blues, Dust Bowl lamentations to hard-rock anthems, and the most harrowing song ever about addiction: "CCKMP," which is an acronym for "Cocaine Cannot Kill My Pain."

Throughout, Earle's scarred, Texas twang proves that he is the hard-core troubadour . —

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