Live At the Old Quarter

Live At the Old Quarter

by Townes Van Zandt


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Townes Van Zandt is better regarded as a songwriter than as a performer, and not without reason -- he was a peerless lyricist with a singular ability to capture the landscape of the heart and soul in words, but while he was a fine singer he wasn't exceptional, and the ravages of alcohol, tobacco and drugs took a fearsome toll on his voice in his last years. But Van Zandt could work magic in front of an audience under the right circumstances, and while a wealth of live recordings of Van Zandt have emerged since his passing on the first day of 1997, Live at the Old Quarter, Houston, Texas ranks with the very best of his concert albums. Live at the Old Quarter is simple and spare, capturing Van Zandt in a 1973 solo performance at a Houston saloon with just his acoustic guitar for company, and the engineering ably captures the ambience of the room, with the audience clearly caught up in the spell of these songs. The set features 26 songs, all originals except for covers of "Cocaine Blues," "Nine Pound Hammer," and "Who Do You Love," and Van Zandt brigs these tunes to life with an easy grace that's a striking complement to the emotional gravity of his lyrics, though he also gives his lighter side an airing here, occasionally cracking jokes and offering a pair of funny talking blues numbers, "Talking Thunderbird Blues" and "Fraternity Blues." If the renditions of "Pancho & Lefty," "If I Needed You," "Rex's Blues," "For the Sake of the Song," and "Tecumseh Valley" aren't quite definitive, they're beautiful and affecting, and thanks to the sharp performances, on-point vocals, and superb set list, this is a superior document of Townes Van Zandt on-stage, and is a fine introduction to his body of work.

Product Details

Release Date: 06/24/2008
Label: Fat Possum Records
UPC: 0767981111827
catalogNumber: 1118
Rank: 26542

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Live at the Old Quarter, Houston, Texas 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
An0nym0use More than 1 year ago
I recommend this as a first Townes van Zandt album. It's the only one I've got and I love it. I've heard that some of his studio albums were very poorly produced. Actually, if you look into it, you'll find that it's pretty unanimous--some of those studio albums were rotten, and it's the producer's fault. This one was live--just him and a guitar, which is really nice. If I had to pick a general theme for his music, it would be something like loneliness or isolation. And, really, who can't relate to that? Toss in that he had a great imagination, and a gift for communicating a feeling, and you've got a great song writer. Definitely worth listening to.
JohnQ More than 1 year ago
Playing this album is like having one of the great song writers (and warm, if imperfect, singers) in your living room for the evening, that is, if your cigarette machine happens to be upstairs.
PennsylvaniaPete More than 1 year ago
A fine recording that really puts you at the show. My only complaint is that they almost could of put the show on one CD. Or they could of added more tracks from other shows to fill out the 80 minute limit per CD. But this is great music.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a great live record simply put. It has everything. Great songs played at thier best. Its just Townes Van Zandt and his guitar. His songs and insightful, thoughful, humurous, and extremely well written and played. The atmosphere is superb as well. The record invokes a small Texas bar with a small stage perfectly. There is simply not enough to say about this record. Well worth every ounce of effort put forth to owning it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago