For the Sake of the Song/Our Mother the Mountain *
Liner Note Author: Roger Dopson.
Recording information: Los Angeles, CA; Nashville, TN.
Townes Van Zandt was a one-of-a-kind artist who blazed a new trail for singer/songwriters, conjuring a sound that combined elements of country and folk with his own artful melodic sensibility, matched with lyrics that were personal, poetic, and impressionistic while remaining firmly down to earth. A new breed of Texas singer/songwriters followed Van Zandt's example, and it's all but impossible to imagine artists like Guy Clark, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, or Steve Earle finding their voice without his guiding influence. This two-disc set features Van Zandt's first two albums, 1968's For the Sake of the Song and 1969's Our Mother the Mountain. While both albums suffer from production that's somewhat intrusive, featuring tricked-up arrangements that take away more than they add to the songs, they feature some of Van Zandt's signature songs, including "Tecumseh Valley," "(Quicksilver Dreams Of) Maria," "I'll Be There in the Morning," "Kathleen," "Be Here to Love Me," and "My Proud Mountains," and Van Zandt's own performances are strong and compelling; while a number of great artists have covered his songs, Van Zandt always remained the canniest interpreter of his own material. These two albums don't represent Van Zandt's best recorded work, but they capture the young artist when he was fresh to recording and eager to present his work to the world; these albums are essential to anyone interested in Van Zandt's work, making this a wise purchase for those introducing themselves to his songs. ~ Mark Deming