Steve Earle and The Dukes – The Hard Way (1990/2016)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz | Time – 55:47 minutes | 1,18 GB | Genre: Country
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download – Source: Qobuz | Front Cover | © Geffen
Originally released in 1990, “The Hard Way” is Steve Earle’s fourth studio album with his backing band, The Dukes. The aptly-titled album was recorded in Nashville as Earle was struggling with severe drug addiction and features two songs co-written with Maria McKee. Celebrating the 30th anniversary of Earle’s debut, this album has been remastered from the original tapes.
“I defend The Hard Way to the death, because I almost died in the process of making it”, Steve Earle told a reporter in 2000, and he wasn’t just being melodramatic. Earle’s well-documented addiction to heroin and cocaine was spiraling out of control in 1990 while he was holed up in Memphis recording The Hard Way. And while his 1988 album Copperhead Road showed him moving away from country and more toward hard rock – and earned him a minor crossover hit in the process – his record label was hoping for a major commercial breakthrough so that his sales might begin to match his good press. The resulting album is a bit of a mess, often sloppy and overbearing, where his country sides had been dynamic and precise, and Earle’s voice was starting to show the strain of his lifestyle. Even his songwriting, usually peerless, wasn’t at its best here, with ‘When the People Find Out,’ ‘Regular Guy,’ and ‘Justice in Ontario’ sounding like they were tossed together fast to round out the album (the latter sounds like a transparent stroke to his Canadian fan base, where Copperhead Road went multi-platinum). But even his weakest studio album has plenty to recommend it, the all-too-biographical ‘Have Mercy’ and ‘West Nashville Boogie,’ and ‘Billy Austin,’ a deeply moving ballad about a man on death row. The Hard Way isn’t much of an album by Earle’s standards, but it’s still got enough heart, soul, and fire to prove Earle couldn’t throw away his talent, no matter how hard he tried.
01 – The Other Kind
02 – Promise You Anything
03 – Esmeralda’s Hollywood
04 – Hopeless Romantics
05 – This Highway’s Mine (Roadmaster)
06 – Billy Austin
07 – Justice In Ontario
08 – Have Mercy
09 – When The People Find Out
10 – Country Girl
11 – Regular Guy
12 – West Nashville Boogie
13 – Close Your Eyes
Recorded in 1990 at Ardent Recording, Memphis, TN., & Sound Emporium, Nashville, TN.
Steve Earle – lead vocal, guitars, mandolin, bass, guitar synthesizer
Bucky Baxter – Mullins pedal steel guitar
Ken Moore – organ, synthesizer, string arrangements
Zip Gibson – electric guitars, vocals
Kelly Looney – bass, vocals
Craig Wright – drums
John Jarvis – piano
Lester Snell – organ on ‘When The People Find Out’
Patrick Earle – percussion
Stacey Earle Mims – harmony on ‘Promise You Anything’
Williams & Brown – background vocals
Susan Jerome-Taylor – background vocals
Note: Recorded in 24/48, Mastered in 96kHz.