Liner Note Author: Keith Glass.
Raven's 2013 two-fer combines Billy Joe Shaver's two albums for Capricorn: 1976's When I Get My Wings and 1977's Gypsy Boy. These two records boast a slightly slicker, grander production than his dusty classic debut Old Five and Dimers Like Me, a commercial gambit that didn't quite pay off and the records soon faded from the catalog, never being the easiest LPs to find on CD. Bear Family released the two as a single CD called Honky Tonk Heroes in 1994, supported by a couple of rarities, but that's harder to find than this Raven two-fer, which adds three cuts from Shaver's 1981 Columbia debut I'm Just an Old Chunk of Coal (that, along with the rest of his Columbia recordings, were rounded up for Real Gone's 2013 double-disc set The Complete Columbia Recordings). From one angle, it could be argued that neither When I Get My Wings nor Gypsy Boy are as strong as Old Five and Dimers or I'm Just an Old Chunk of Coal, primarily due to that big production, but to an extent that's just nitpicking: in retrospect that '70s studio slickness sounds appealing and Shaver sounds wily, singing some of his greatest songs ("Ain't No God in Mexico," "When the Word Was Thunderbird," "Ride Me Down Easy," "Honky Tonk Heroes," "I'm Going Crazy in 3/4 Time," "You Asked Me To"). Certainly, any serious fan of country music, particularly in its progressive '70s incarnation, will find the renewed availability of these two Shaver LPs reason to celebrate. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine