CD Review of Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc., Etc. by Dwight Yoakam

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Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc., Etc. (Deluxe Edition)
starstarstarstarno star Label: Rhino
Released: 2006
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Yoakam came to California by way of Kentucky, and in the process, turned Nashville on its rhinestone-studded ear. He’d likely dispute this notion, and to be fair, it’s overly simplistic, but for the purposes of setting up this 20th-anniversary reissue of Yoakam’s major-label debut, it’s as good a starting point as any.

Often, deluxe retrospectives such as these suffer when removed from context; listen to, say, Pet Sounds with purely 21st-century ears, and you’ll miss out on big chunks of what makes the album so special. It’s impossible to go back and truly hear what a difference a record made after its statements have been absorbed into the popular lexicon.Guitars, however, works as both an important release and a great fuckin’ country album.

What made Yoakam stand out in 1986 – to the extent that his songs were being played on “alternative” stations back when the term meant anything – is what makes this record sound timeless today; namely, the informed appreciation that Yoakam and his producer/lead guitarist, Pete Anderson, showed for dusty Bakersfield roots music. In less dexterous hands, such a Buck Owens fetish would have been comical or irritating, but rather than using his influences as a crutch, Yoakam used them as a launching pad.

It’s all laid out here, from the demos Yoakam cut before Guitars, to the album itself, to the terrific, epochal Roxy gig captured on Disc Two. Listen carefully, and you can hear a paradigm being forcefully shifted by the toe of Yoakam’s boot. Or don’t. Either way, the set holds up as eminently worthy of the deluxe treatment, and for once, the bits of ephemera attached to the original record don’t detract from the experience. Buy it.

~Jeff Giles