Copperhead Road

Copperhead Road

A maverick to his Virginia-born bones, Earle took a long stride toward freedom on 1988's Copperhead Road. The guitars snarl and the drums slam fiercely on this fiery, take-no-prisoners song collection. The title track (a FM rock favorite) and "The Devil's Right Hand" roar with the defiance of a Confederate guerilla force, with Earle's vocals ringing with feverish desperation. Softer tunes like "Nothing but a Child" (a tender nativity song) take the edge off the anger. Another highpoint, "Johnny Come Lately," matches him with the Pogues for a galloping Irish-Appalachian romp. At this point in his career, Earle was veering away from Nashville's restrictions and reveling in his own potent country/rock/folk blend fearlessly. He's gone on to release other outstanding albums, but Copperhead Road is unmatched for its musical ferocity and fine-etched lyrical insights. There's venom and honey alike to be savored here.

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