Reviewed by Jim Caligiuri, Fri., Jan. 24, 2014
Lucinda Williams(Lucinda Williams Records)
Truly great albums might go in and out of print – this one was unavailable for 10 years – but they seldom go out of style. Lucinda Williams released two blues-heavy efforts before this, but this self-titled album, released on UK indie Rough Trade in 1988, began her journey to becoming a household name. In a newly remastered 2-disc edition, Lucinda Williams blossoms all over again. Others had hits with its songs: Mary Chapin Carpenter won its author a Grammy with her cover of "Passionate Kisses," while Patty Loveless peaked at No. 20 on Billboard's country chart with "The Night's Too Long." Add Tom Petty, Emmylou Harris, Linda Thompson, and such under-valued names as the Schramms and Prairie Oyster. Opener "I Just Wanted to See You So Bad," and "Big Red Sun Blues," essential parts of Texas music, still jump from the speakers as if we're hearing them for the first time, both glittering examples of what exemplary roots rock can be. If the album was once too rock for country and too country for rock, now it sounds perfect as the midway point between the two. Williams' voice cuts tough, vulnerable, yearning, and powerful, a combination few have ever been able to achieve. One disc contains the original album, the other both previously available and unreleased live recordings. A concert from 1989 in the Netherlands lets her band shine muscular but unpretentious, especially guitarist and album co-producer Gurf Morlix. Also included: a photo booklet with two essays, one from Rough Trade A&R man Robin Hurley, who started it all, and another from veteran music journalist Chris Morris that details the making of Lucinda Williams with sizzle.