Late, great Lone Star songwriter, often covered, seldom bettered
Although he died too early, aged 52 in 1997, Townes Van Zandt packed in plenty. He emerged when first-hand knowledge of Elvis, Hank, Dale Watson and Roy Acuff was still possible. Schooled in Texan country blues, Townes learnt the script and added his own erudite slant. This lovingly annotated four-CD box comprises seven studio albums from 1968 to 1978, and a brief live selection from Houston’s Old Quarter. As examples of his scope, “Honky Tonkin'”, “Pancho And Lefty” (a staple of Willie Nelson’s repertoire) and the white gospel of “When He Offers His Hand” cover terrain between old country radio crackle, outlaw and modern alt.sounds. Excellent.