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Live At the Ryman

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iTunes Review

Live At the Ryman is Robert Earl Keen’s fourth live album, and while it doesn’t have the roadhouse grit of his classic No. 2 Live Dinner, it offers the venerable Texas singer-songwriter in his most accessible form. Listening to these performances — recorded before a packed house at Nashville’s historic Ryman Auditorium — it’s hard to believe that Keen has never been able to break through to a mainstream audience. The full-bodied versions of classic Keen songs like “Gringo Honeymoon” and “I’m Comin’ Home” are just as catchy and appealing as much of what passes through modern country radio — only these songs have more heart. At the very least, you’d think “What I Really Mean” and “Broken End of Love” would assure critical adoration equal to that of Lucinda Williams (whose voice and songwriting style are very close to Keen) yet Keen remains a well-kept secret among music fans. Perhaps that’s the way it should be. But if your friends insist they hate country try introducing them to Keen with these versions of “Amarillo Highway” and “Corpus Christi Bay,” which prove the songwriter’s ability to rock out when it counts.

Customer Reviews

Definitely not #2 live dinner, very underwhelming

This live album is more like a studio session with a couple of good solos from Brotherton & Muse mixed in. I have been to 40+ REK shows in my life and I have to think that this album was simply a money grab excercise. Save your $10 and apply it towards a couple of beers next time the REK and the guys come through your town. Long Chain, Farm Fresh Onions and Train Trek are not only the worst REK songs ever, they are possibly the worst songs since anything Yoko Ono has done. I am not joking.

Pay no attention to the reviewers behind the curtain

This is not just a rehash. What would you expect of a live show, that Keen et al would play all new stuff the audience had never heard? This is one of the better live recordings I've heard. Keen was obviously revved up at the venue, and the audience was in his pocket. The band was incredibly tight, much more so than the sort of loose, honky tonk sound I've heard from him before. The level of musicianship and enthusiasm on both sides of the mike make this one great live album.

Great live album from one of the greatest!

No. 2 live dinner is one if not the greatest live album ever but this one is right up there as well. I just sak REK a few months ago on this tour and I only wish he'd been as sharp that night as he is on this record. For long time REK fans this album won't disappoint and for those of you new to his music this is a great starting point. Buy with confidence.


Born: January 11, 1956 in Houston, TX

Genre: Country

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Among the large contingent of talented songwriters who emerged in Texas in the 1980s and '90s, Robert Earl Keen struck an unusual balance between sensitive story-portraits ("Corpus Christi Bay") and raucous barroom fun ("That Buckin' Song"). These two song types in Keen's output were unified by a mordant sense of humor that strongly influenced the early practitioners of what would become known as alternative country music. Keen, the son of an oil executive father and an attorney mother, was a native...
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