Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Shaver

  • Tramp on Your Street [Praxis International/Zoo, 1993] Dud
  • The Earth Rolls On [New West, 2001] A-
  • Shaver's Jewels, The Best of Shaver [New West, 2013] A

See Also:

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Tramp on Your Street [Praxis International/Zoo, 1993] Dud

The Earth Rolls On [New West, 2001]
Always too rudimentary a singer and soft a writer to earn the unconditional love of anybody but his famous drinking buddies and the woman who married him three times, this good-hearted, weak-willed people's poet cum no-good bum hasn't given up on yon "Evergreen Fields" or that ol' "Restless Wind." But for once rank sentimentality is the exception. The thanksgiving of "Love Is So Sweet" and flipped bird of "Leavin' Amarillo" are equally combative, equally cheerful. Nor is it just the New Year's Eve OD of his guitarist son Eddy that gives "Hard Hearted Heart," "Star in My Heart," and "Blood Is Thicker Than Water" their resonance--though you do wonder whether Billy Joe saw the end coming and was doing what he could about it. A-

Shaver's Jewels, The Best of Shaver [New West, 2013]
Saint and sinner, born again and doomed to perdition--these are old flavors in Southern vernacular music, leached by now of their savor. So give credit to this legendary outlaw-country songwriter-frontman--whose given name is Billy Joe, and whose eponymous band went belly up when his 37-year-old guitarist son Eddy Shaver OD'd New Year's Eve 2000--for slipping so easily from one to the other. This trick is greatly facilitated by Billy Joe's knack for the simple tune and an unassuming vocal affect that makes each one sound like he made it up in the shower after sleeping in his clothes. It also helps that "Son of Calvary," "You Just Can't Beat Jesus Christ," and "Live Forever" are followed by 10 earthbound numbers that culminate with "The Earth Rolls On," which could be about Eddy and could be the woman who has him bouncing down the street in "Love Is So Sweet." A