Townes Van Zandt: Sunshine Boy: The Unheard Studio Sessions & Demos 1971-1972 *

Track List

>T for Texas
>Who Do You Love
>Sunshine Boy
>Where I Lead Me
>Blue Ridge Mountains
>No Deal
>Pancho & Lefty [Alternate 1972 Mix Without Strings and Horns]
>To Live Is to Fly
>You Are Not Needed Now
>Don't Take It Too Bad
>Sad Cinderella
>Mr. Mudd & Mr. Gold
>White Freight Liner Blues
>Two Hands
>Lungs
>Dead Flowers
>Heavenly Houseboat Blues
>Diamond Heel Blues
>To Live Is to Fly
>Tower Song
>You Are Not Needed Now
>Mr. Mudd & Mr. Gold
>Highway Kind
>Greensboro Woman
>When He Offers His Hand
>Dead Flowers
>Old Paint
>Standin'
>[Untitled]

Album Notes

Liner Note Author: Colin Escott.

Recording information: Jack Clement Recording Studios, Nashville, TN (1971); Larrabee Sound Studios, Los Angeles, CA (1971); Jack Clement Recording Studios, Nashville, TN (1972); Larrabee Sound Studios, Los Angeles, CA (1972).

Photographer: Steve Salmieri.

The embodiment of the tragic troubadour, Townes Van Zandt's prolific and sublime output reached what some would deem its apex with the release of two 1972 albums: High, Low and in Between and The Late Great Townes Van Zandt. Van Zandt's lonesome folk-blues songs were at their most passionate, desperate, and visceral at this point, and his painful path continued to escalate in difficulty as his masterworks were less than commercial successes and his heroin habit drained his spirit heavily. As time went on, the strength of his writing, especially in this prolific period, would elevate Van Zandt to levels of almost mythical American legend status, and his songs would be covered by bigger names in country and folk. Sunshine Boy collects rough studio mixes, alternate takes, and demo recordings from this golden 1971-1972 period, all previously unreleased. The 28 tracks here offer an especially intimate window on the artist, with spare demos and stripped-down studio mixes spotlighting Van Zandt's weathered vocals and straightforward, often heartbreaking storytelling lyrics. The studio half of the collection features languid blues covers ("Who Do You Love"), bluegrass romps ("Blue Ridge Mountains"), and country-fried western rockers ("Two Hands," "Mr. Mudd & Mr. Gold"). An early alternate mix of Van Zandt's biggest single, "Pancho & Lefty," is heard here without its mariachi horns or string arrangements. Without these elements to date it, the crushingly sad ballad takes on a timeless feel, more direct than any era of singer/songwriter sounds it may have been created in. The 12 off-hand demos included here are what truly offer an intimate portrait of the singer in his prime. Van Zandt sounds especially candid, accompanied mostly by his own guitar and singing softly to himself between takes. Tracks like "Heavenly Houseboat Blues," the traditional "Old Paint," and a very laid-back take on the Stones' "Dead Flowers," are all as disarming as they are enjoyable. The loose approach of these demos doesn't take away at all from their power. The space and simplicity just allow more room for Van Zandt's unique character to come through. Though all of the songs on Sunshine Boy found their way to official albums in more fleshed-out versions, these uncluttered takes offer a beautifully bare look at a young artist whose combination of astonishing gifts and troubled life would eventually make him an American folk hero. ~ Fred Thomas



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