Steve Earle: Copperhead Road (1988)


Steve Earle first came up on my radar back in 1986-87 when I read about him in an issue of a Canadian Magazine called ‘Music Express’.

Earle was selling a bunch of albums in the Great White North with his current album at the time which was ‘Guitar Town’ I thought it was cool that there was an American Country act who was selling more albums in Canada than there own country(Earle is an American).

Good on him I said to myself but I was still into my major Metal Faze(well I still am in 2019 so some things don’t change) but as a country act, Steve didn’t annoy me! Lol.

Fast forward to late 1988 when I was watching TV. Now TV was way different in 88 than what it is now. If you are an old buzzard like me you will know what I’m talking about.

We had to subscribe to what they would call Pay TV. Basically, you had your 10 channels but if u wanted another 20 channels or so at the time you had to pay extra for a box set top to access those 20 channels.

Fortunately, my Mom and Dad bought into the Pay TV box at the time so I could get MuchMusic especially the Pepsi Power Hour! So one night I was surfing as there were 30 channels and nothing on when I came across the NashvilleNetwork channel when I saw this long-haired fella being interviewed on a country show called Crook and Chase.

That fella was Steve Earle. My first thought was whats a dude who looks like he could be in Guns N Roses doing on this Country Talk Show? Speaking of Gunners Steve was wearing a Guns T-shirt!

Then during the interview segment they showed a clip of Steve’s lead single from the album ‘Copperhead Road’.

Whoah this is no Hee Haw Country stuff this is basically a hard rock track done with a flair of country n rock mixed and it was and still is brilliant!

This kind of Country I can handle!

So I took the plunge and purchased Copperhead Road shortly after and it’s a great album period!

First of all look at the packaging of this record. The cover with the Skull and Crossbones gets the message across big time! The back cover as well! At some point, I will have to do a Back Covers on this record as that pic of Earle is badass!

Opener Copperhead Road is still played today on our local crap radio station which is impressive as it’s on a rock station. It shows you that Earle had crossover potential and this track proves it.

Tons of great tracks on this album. Snake Oil with a riff that is right out of any classic rock track. Back To The Wall is another of my favs off of this album. Devils Right Hand as well. I mean what a 4 track opener for any album.

While Side 1 has more of a ‘Rock’ sound attached to it Side 2 starting with Even When I’m Blue has more of that traditional country vibe in the tracks You Belong To Me/Waiting On You and Once You Love.

While the Rock Guy in me so to speak prefers Side 1 there are times you need to hear some great introspective lyrics and songs and that’s where Side 2 comes into play!

My Earle collection didn’t start and end with Copperhead Road. I ended buying the next album of his 1990’s The Hard Way followed by 1991’s brilliant live release Shut Up And Die Like An Aviator that was recorded live in Mikey Ladano’s hometown of Kitchener Ontario!

Cooperhead Road has the distinction at the time of its release by being a different kind of rock in my collection back in 1988! It didn’t matter to me as it was a solid album with an amplified mandolin cranked thorough a Marshall Amp!

31 thoughts on “Steve Earle: Copperhead Road (1988)”

    1. For sure John! It’s one of the few records that had crossover appeal. Like I mentioned early our local Crap Radio startion Rock 94 plays the title track a fair bit which comapred to the other shit they paly is A-OK in my book!
      Thanks for reading!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah i like album’s like that which have a bit of crossover appeal. I have quite a few artists who play country but have done an album which is like a rock album.
        And you’re right about the title track, even in Australia is still all over the radio.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Pal!
      Thought I would give you an end of the year History lesson about being a Canuck back in 1988! In case your wondering I turned 21 that year!
      All Hail the mighty 80s!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Nice write up, Deke. I bought this a few years back and then sold it. Kinda regret it now, but I didn’t listen to it often. Anyhoo, it’s a good album.


  2. Good one deKE. I was a big fan before this one came out. This record just made me a bigger one. I have never left Steve, he continues to put out quality music his way. I seen him tour this record and yeah it was pretty far from that watered down country stuff. You mention ‘The Hard Way’. Some killer tracks on there also, ‘I’m The Other Kind’ and a killer rocker in ‘The Highways Mine Roadmaster’.
    One other note on this record that I remember. The Pogues were on a cut. I was also a big fan of them and thought it was cool they got together. Later fella.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks CB for some awesome insight on this album. Thats awesome he has you as a life long fan. It keeps him going. I do remember reading at the time Steve was into the Pogues.
      I always liked Justice in Ontario being I’m from Ontario!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. He certainly has Canada and Ont in his blood. He can play anything you want and play like it’s his chosen music. The only genre that I havent heard him do is jazz but i’m sure if I listened closely I could find it in his music. It would be subtle. He’s eclectic in his tastes like deKE and CB and a whole lot more of our fellow music heads.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Great write up man. I first heard him around 87 or 88 with “I Aint Never Satisified” and I’ve read where that was a bigger hit in Canada. After that, I followed the guy. I saw him open up for Bob Dylan in 89 I believe. What a songwriter the guy was/is.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.