Billy Joe Shaver

REVIEW: Billy Joe Shaver & Kinky Friedman “Live Down Under”

Reviews

Billy Joe Shaver & Kinky Friedman – Live Down Under

A little raw at times this 22-cut live LP serves as more of a document for aficionados & completists than the curious. Nonetheless, the well-recorded live show by 2 Texas legends down in Australia as part of their “Two For Texas” tour shimmers. From the Oz gathering where Aussies became somewhat Texas rowdy for the evening – it was a good time for all.

The show is captured live & sounds superb. The rousing opener “Georgia on a Fast Train,” by the late Billy Joe Shaver is energetic, inspiring & possesses all the song-potency that made these 2 famous. The guitar picking throughout the LP is exceptional. The credits don’t break down who played what (there were 4 acoustic guitarists on the show).

Live in Sydney, Australia at The Basement, Feb. 19-21, 2002. It apparently was a sold-out house from the opening intro. Live Down Under (Drops Oct. 15–Omnivore Recordings) was produced by the outlaw Texans Kinky Friedman & Billy Joe Shaver with Jeff “Little Jewford” Shelby who played keyboard, melodica, kazoo & BGV.

Kinky follows with “Western Union Wire,” — a poignant fragile tune sung well.

Kinky Friedman

What gave the concert added poignancy is that Shaver recently suffered the loss of his mother, wife & son. Not in the best of health during these concerts Shaver performed despite being diagnosed needing a quadruple heart bypass. He postponed the procedure, performed wonderfully & had a good time.

Kinky & Shaver played their best with expertise: “Old Chunk of Coal,” & “Riding Down Easy.” Honky-tonk piano, exhilarating acoustic guitar, & vocals. If Shaver was ailing it didn’t show. The musicians: Kinky & Billy Joe Shaver (d. Oct. 28, 2020) — acoustic guitars, Jesse “Guitar” Taylor (acoustic/lead guitar) & Washington Ratso (acoustic guitar/BGV).

Billy Joe Shaver

Between each, and both did quite well, Shaver’s songs may have been the standouts. Probably because so many singers have covered Shaver’s songs through the decades. The tunes were easily recognizable. The Australians certainly got a taste of Texas.

Kinky excels in hilarious storytelling especially on “Wild Man From Borneo.” An excellent song in Kinky’s thin voice that doesn’t lack the drama of the lyric. Australia loved it. Shaver, of course, holds his own as a humorist & it’s evident through the CD. Both artists were in top form. Melodies were strong, lyrics were sung with clarity.

“Marilyn & Joe,” is exceptional with a fiery acoustic guitar solo, “You Asked Me To,” “Ride ‘em Jewboy,” & “Before All Hell Breaks Loose,” are all memorable.

Kinky B&W photo: Ken Swartz/Shaver color picture: Getty Images.

The 1 hour, 4-minute CD produced for re-release by Phil Cody is available @ http://omnivorerecordings.com/shop/live-down-under/

 

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