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Trailer Tapes CD (2007)

Artist: Chris Knight

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Stunningly powerful first recordings

by on 4/7/2007

Knight's studio recordings quickly established the Kentucky native as an imposing songwriter with a dark streak of honesty. His self-titled 1998 debut for MCA showed off his songwriting prowess, but the Nashville session players didn't have the grit to back up the spit in Knight's eye. 2001's "A Pretty Good Guy," produced by the Georgia Satellites' Dan Baird, proved to be a breakthrough. Baird focused the arrangements more like folk songs, with Knight's words as the anvil, and his voice as the hammer. Comparisons to John Price, Steve Earle, Johnny Mellencamp and Bruce Springsteen followed as Knight uncorked songs of rural violence and hopelessness that were magnetic in their horror. ¶ Two years before his bow on MCA, Knight recorded a series of acoustic demos that plainly illustrated the power and directness that landed a recording contract, and foreshadowed the brilliance to which he'd return on "A Pretty Good Guy." Starkly recorded by Frank Liddell in a single-wide Kentucky trailer, Knight, his original songs, his rustic voice and his acoustic guitar are brutal in their transparency. Think of Springsteen's "Nebraska" without having to shuck off a superstar's career -- this is first-generation rural grit, rather than a studied re-creation. And Knight's discomfort at recording – singing into a microphone, picking a sympathetic key, playing a song the same way twice, the heat of a Kentucky August strangling the oxygen – add a palpable edge to the characters whose voices populate the lyrics. ¶ Of the eleven originals, only three have turned up again – "House and 90 Acres" and "Something Changed" on Knight's debut, and "If I Were You" on "A Pretty Good Guy." The latter, sung slower and in a lower key, isn't as pained as the re-rerecording, but the words of a regretful hold-up are just as powerful. "Something Changed," also sung slower and in a lower key, creates poignancy from the intimate voice-and-guitar performance – something the debut album squandered. The eight additional titles are heard here for the first time on CD, and their strength is surprising, given that Knight dropped them all in the two years before his commercial debut. ¶ From the start Knight drew upon characters in trouble and turmoil. He sings of couples on the verge of collapse, wounded lovers, battered wives jailed for self-defense, burned out rail workers, small-town brawlers with chips on their shoulders, and the displaced and dispossessed. His characters are spent and hopeless, the stunted imaginations to which they'd descend in a few albums are salted here with dimming slivers of hope. ¶ Ray Kennedy's remixed the two-track tapes to perfection, retaining their intimate sound while removing distracting recording artifacts. The eleven tracks easily best the quality (though not the quantity) of unofficial versions of these sessions that have circulated over the years. In comparison, Knight's studio albums have more formal craft, and he matured as a performer, but these raw first performances are the summation of the living at the root of his songwriting. This is an essential buy for fans of Chris Knight, or anyone who likes gutsy, uncompromised folk-country with a hardnosed rural edge. [©2007 redtunictroll at hotmail dot com]

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Product Overview


Label Thirty Tigers/red
SKU 204230680
UPC 822976000224
UPC 14 00822976000224
Format CD
Release Date 4/3/2007
Author Chris Knight
Product Attributes
Artist Knight,Chris
Music Format Compact Disc

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Stunningly powerful first recordings by on Apr 07, 2007