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The Dawg Years (1975-1978)

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Album Review

The late singer and songwriter Blaze Foley is almost unheard of outside of the circles of music fans who follow that scene closely. For many Austin musicians, he was a crazy saint, an iconoclast who was banned from virtually every bar in town, but whose songs are deeply admired and whose persona was singular — he didn't give a good god damn what anybody thought of him. He has been immortalized in Lucinda Williams' beautiful "Drunken Angel" and songwriter-guitarist Gurf Morlix, who played with him, lovingly mastered a record they made together in the late '70s which was released in 2006 as Blaze Foley & the Beaver Valley Boys. Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, Kings of Leon, Lyle Lovett, and John Prine, among others, have recorded his songs. He's been exploited on a few compilations that have come out over the years with awful post-production work that he would never have agreed to. Fat Possum deepens the legend further without soiling the artist in the process. The Dawg Years is a collection of 20 Foley songs, recorded when his moniker was Deputy Dawg. They were cut during three different living room sessions between February of 1976 and September of 1978. They may or may not be his first recordings, but they are from the very beginning of the myth and legend that he became. They were intimately cut at the home of Margery & Billy Bouris and sat in the back of a closet for 25 years. This is the first time they've been released in total — 20 tracks worth. Despite the fact that these were cut in mono, and a baby can be heard crying through some of it, the fidelity is excellent, and the performances — some with sparse dialogue—are startlingly present, emotionally taut and quietly intense. Foley's approach encompassed folk, country, blues, rag, and other styles; in other words, he was an Americana artist before genre existed. With his excellent guitar playing, writing and signing, he was direct, often funny, and clever, and in some songs, there is a quiet rage that burns for his version of justice. Check the songs "Tree House Lullaby," "The Moonlight Song," "Crawl Back to You," "Basil's Song," "Rudee Down in New Orleans," "Big Chief Hightower," and the humorous "Cosmic Doo Doo" (where he name checks Bruce Springsteen). Some well-known tunes are here too, such as "Springtime in Uganda," "Big Cheeseburgers and Good French Fries," "New Wave Blues," "Election Day," and "Cold, Cold World." For anyone who loved Foley's music, who knew him either as Blaze Foley or Deputy Dawg, or even heard his name mentioned in relation to legends like Townes Van Zandt's, this set is for you. It's the real deal and can't be recommended highly enough.


Born: 18 December 1949 in Arkansas

Genre: Country

Years Active: '70s, '80s

The colorful yet tragic life of Austin singer/songwriter Blaze Foley -- who was shot and killed in 1989, at the age of 39, while trying to defend an elderly friend -- reads like the most heart-piercing of country ballads. It's no wonder then that extraordinary artists like Foley's friend and hero Townes Van Zandt and Lucinda Williams penned odes to him (Van Zandt's "Blaze's Blues" and Williams' "Drunken Angel"). As for Foley's craft, no less than Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard covered Foley's "If...
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The Dawg Years (1975-1978), Blaze Foley
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