Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc., Etc.
Dwight Yoakam was born in Kentucky and grew up in Ohio, but was an almost immediate sensation when he hit Los Angeles and began performing his unique blend of Bakersfield country, bluegrass, and rock ’n’ roll in the city’s clubs alongside bands like Los Lobos, the Blasters, and X. His debut is a brilliant synthesis of styles, with lead guitar and fiddle and an almost punk-rock beat, the product of Yoakam’s songwriting genius (seven of its 10 tracks came from his pen) and producer Pete Anderson’s taut, deceptively minimalist arrangements. “It Won’t Hurt” is a classic barroom weeper, while “I’ll Be Gone” is a kind of punk bluegrass sex-brag, and the title track is a bitter lament about “a naïve fool who came to Babylon” and seeks solace in country music. The three covers — Johnny Horton’s “Honky Tonk Man,” Johnny Cash’s “Ring Of Fire,” and Harlan Howard’s “Heartaches By The Number” — seem like exactly the kind of thing that would rile up a half-drunk crowd. Yoakam’s a rare talent who’s never made a truly bad album, but this debut came out like a rocket.
- Thom Jurek from AllMusic