Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Billy Joe Shaver

  • Old Five and Dimers Like Me [Monument, 1973] B
  • Freedom's Child [Compadre, 2002] Choice Cuts
  • Billy and the Kid [Compadre, 2004] Dud
  • The Real Deal [Compadre, 2005] **
  • Everybody's Brother [Compadre, 2007] Choice Cuts
  • Long in the Tooth [Lightning Rod, 2014] A-

See Also:

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Old Five and Dimers Like Me [Monument, 1973]
Kris Kristofferson produced this record because Billy Joe Shaver can really write songs. But they aren't so irresistible that Billy Joe can get away with singing them--not even (not even?) with Kris giving lessons. B

Freedom's Child [Compadre, 2002]
"That's What She Said Last Night" Choice Cuts

Billy and the Kid [Compadre, 2004] Dud

The Real Deal [Compadre, 2005]
Another Christian truth-sayer heard from ("Live Forever," "Slim Chance and the Can't Hardly Playboys"). **

Everybody's Brother [Compadre, 2007]
"Played the Game Too Long," "If You Don't Love Jesus" Choice Cuts

Long in the Tooth [Lightning Rod, 2014]
Raving the title track as if he has no teeth at all and topping an old reprobate's catchy cannot-love plaint with an old Christian's melodic yours-for-life pledge, the 75-year-old delivers the latest old man's summum. Striving as always to keep the tunes irresistibly familiar without making a fuss about it, he also deploys his knack for strokes of wordplay you swear someone must have gotten to first, and sometimes you'll be right--"I'm playing checkers while they're playing chess" has been turning trope, although not to my knowledge followed by "They make the big moves that make me a little less." On the other hand, "Is it a lover or a liver/I really need the most?" in the breakup-qua-detox song "Last Call for Alcohol" would seem to be his. Willie delivers "The Git Go" and "Hard to Be an Outlaw" more tellingly on his new album. But Shaver owns everything here nonetheless. A-