Townes van Zandt
"In The Beginning"
by Johanna J. Bodde

TOWNES VAN ZANDT   "In The Beginning"
(Compadre Records)

Oh boy, I always thought that the ancient LP "For The Sake Of The Song" standing here in the closet, contained the first works of John Townes Van Zandt. Nope, now -being dug up from an archive- there's "In The Beginning", demos recorded in the year 1966 under the watchful eye of the man who discovered his talents, Mickey Newbury. And I'm real happy with this album, as this really adds something enriching to the collected recordings. The musical inheritance of Townes is the worst rubbish-heap in the world, with easily hundred and fifty different versions of his best-known songs, it doesn't help either when the next of kin suddenly see dollars everywhere. Besides that, towards the end of his life, he signed every contract for whatever recording, just to have some money in the pocket again, as bad habits are expensive... Resulting in a number of live-CD's -with a few exceptions- that send shivers of substitutional shame down your spine, just because he wasn't able to perform anymore.
But here he still has that impressively beautiful, melancholy voice to the fullest, he plays guitar in such a wonderful way AND these are ten unknown songs! Maybe not yet showing all the virtuosity of his work on albums that he made in later years, like my favorite "Our Mother The Mountain" for instance, but definitely very pure. It's fun to figure out what song something here makes you think of, because he clearly worked a bit more lateron with these ideas and melody lines.
The booklet received also a lot of attention, it has extensive liner-notes, lyrics, pictures of artwork and old photographs of Townes. I think the best one shows him sitting in a chair, with eyeglasses, wearing a blue t-shirt and dirty jeans, socks, no shoes. And a bottle of whiskey in his hands...
Written by Johanna J. Bodde, Dutch original of this review previously published on Real Roots Cafe, The Netherlands.