Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc., Etc.
The Music Box's #10 reissue of 2006
First Appeared in The Music Box, December 2006, Volume 13, #12
Written by John Metzger
The genesis of Dwight Yoakam’s now 20-year-old debut Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc. Etc. actually began five years earlier in 1981 when he, guitarist Jerry McGee, and producer Gordon Schyrock ventured into a recording studio to lay down a series of demos. Backed by an impressive band that included pianist Glen D. Hardin (The Crickets, Merle Haggard, Emmylou Harris), pedal steel guitarist Jay Dee Maness (Emmylou Harris, Desert Rose Band), and mandolinist/fiddle player David Mansfield (Bob Dylan’s Rolling Thunder Revue), Yoakam created, in the wee hours of the morning, the template that since has guided his career. That the 10 tracks that open the deluxe edition of Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc., Etc. were issued just a few years ago as part of the four-disc box set Reprise, Please Baby is moot; here, the song cycle attains its rightful place as the prelude to an EP-turned-album that — along with early efforts by George Strait and Randy Travis — helped to push country music away from its post-Urban Cowboy ennui and back toward its harder-edged roots.
Though Hardin, Maness, and Mansfield lent their support to the final outing, it’s not surprising, considering the gap that separated the initial and official recording sessions, that Yoakam was backed by different ensembles or that he placed different spins upon the occasionally overlapping material. Still, both the demos as well as those selections that came to compose Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc., Etc. sprang from a similar set of reference points that relit country tradition with the fiery spark of rock ’n‘ roll. Although it’s doubtful that anyone truly needed help in discerning Yoakam’s influences, his uneven but intriguing interpretive outing Under the Covers — which allowed songs by The Clash and the Rolling Stones to commingle with selections by Roy Orbison and Jimmie Rodgers — did a superb job of laying most of his cards on the table. Though curiously, those of his southern California brethren Merle Haggard, Buck Owens, and yes, even The Byrds were noticeably absent. No matter, their sway was a mainstay of his early work, and it percolated through the hyperactive bluegrass-meets-rock fury of This Drinkin’ Will Kill Me, Bury Me, and I’ll Be Gone. Elsewhere, ballads and mid-tempo shuffles like You’re the One, Please Daddy, and Harlan Howard’s Heartaches by the Number placed Yoakam’s heartfelt and emotionally honest vocals firmly within the spotlight, while Miner’s Prayer and Twenty Years fused Johnny Cash’s Sun Studios-imbued rhythmic chug with swinging, Bakersfield-bred grooves.
Nevertheless, the real treat contained on the newly compiled rendition of Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc., Etc. — for Yoakam’s avid fans as well as for newcomers — is the live material that is featured on the collection’s second disc. As his early demos indicated, Yoakam was destined for bigger and better things, but connecting with guitarist Pete Anderson was what thrust him forward full-throttle. With bass player J.D. Foster, drummer Jeff Donavan, and fiddle player Brantley Kearns also by his side, Yoakam recast a pair of Bill Monroe’s classics by turning Rocky Road Blues into a raging, rockabilly-imbued romp and by giving Can’t You Hear Me Calling a remarkably intense workout. Although the original composition I’ll Be Gone was pushed nearly to its limit, the collective was so tight that it never derailed. Likewise, the group delivered supercharged renditions of Hank Williams’ My Bucket’s Got a Whole in It and the seminal Junior Parker/Sam Phillips-penned tune Mystery Train. The loose, vibrant energy unleashed by Yoakam and his backing band propels all 12 of the concert cuts, which were recorded at Hollywood’s The Roxy in March 1986, and taken in full, they provide a commendable alternative to Live from Austin, TX and Dwight Live. Over the years, many artists have attempted to cobble together archival material in a fashion that paints a similar portrait of an ascendancy to the top of the charts, but few of the resulting endeavors have felt this fully realized and complete. From start to finish, the deluxe edition of Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc., Etc. offers a sterling glimpse at a star in the making.
Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc., Etc. [Deluxe Edition] —
Bonus Materials —
Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc., Etc. [Original Album] —
Of Further Interest...
Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc., Etc.: Deluxe Edition is available from
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2006 The Music Box