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Steve Earle: Copperhead Road (Uni) *** ½

Rob Tannenbaum, Rolling Stone, 26 January 1989

IN 1986 AND 1987, Steve Earle made two great records — Guitar Town and Exit 0 — on which he established a vivid Southern-working-class identity and melded aspects of country, folk and rock. Even though his band had a steel guitarist, rock fans saw Earle as a spiritual cousin of Bruce Springsteen, John Cougar Mellencamp, Ronnie Van Zant and Bob Dylan. Meanwhile, the barons of country music in Nashville, Earle's home town, treated him like this generation's Waylon Jennings — a talented, possibly crazy renegade with limited commercial appeal on the rhinestone-cowboy circuit. Though those two records sold well, no one in the country-music business was about to mistake Earle for Randy Travis at awards time.

Total word count of piece: 515

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