Love and Other Crimes album cover
Love and Other Crimes

Lee Hazlewood

Reprise Records

Hazlewood was a country music bizzer who wrote for hundreds of artists, including Duane Eddy and Pat Boone. On his own, he was the King of 4 PM, hungover but right there when the bar opened, ready to drown those demons again. Think of a point equidistant between Willie Nelson and Serge Gainsbourg—there’s Hazlewood. His singing voice was low but not profound, relaxed and unpretentious. Hazlewood wasn’t going to put in the work to become a big lights Nashville star, but he approached songwriting with standards higher than most (which is to say, like a Music Row pro): no clichés, no easy sentimentality, nothing fancy, nothing dumb. His songs are dark and unpredictable, more than a little like Lou Reed’s (who cut his first demos in 1965 pretty much as country music). LAOC is still country, though, so it gets through its darkness in only nine cuts, with drummer Hal Blaine and guitarist James Burton being the same killers they were with Elvis. Nobody talks about cabaret country, but if they did, Lee Hazlewood would be the CEO of that vibe. “If God is watching when I pay for my sin, tell him I’m sorry but I’d do it again.” More than a little of Nick Cave’s approach comes from this album.

Sasha Frere-Jones

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