The Outsiders album-Eric Church (EMI)

Here is as important an album as anything ever released. It’s right up there with “Wanted, The Outlaws” from Waylon and Willie in ’76; an album that will cast a shadow of influence for a long time. It’s beyond a star-making album, he’s already a star. This is something the great ones do after they are on top of the mountain. The seminal example of that being “Sgt. Peppers” which changed the Rock world like an earthquake. For the full effect of this masterpiece, my recommendation is to get into your car, alone, after dark, get on a sparse state highway and slip it into the deck. Track it. The lyrics are wow, the arrangements are dramatic, it has an atmosphere all it’s own. Clearly there are influences, I swear Like A Wrecking Ball is a homage to Procol Harum’s “A Whiter Shade of Pale” (spotify it, kids) with that organ work. I expect Dark Side, as ominous, as dangerous and threatening as it is, will become an anthem, a “my song” fantasy for this and the next generation of young men. And that song segues into Devil, Devil as smoothly and organically as the “Sgt. Peppers (reprise)” segued into “A Day In The Life.” A Man Who Was Gonna Die Young is the essence of masterful simplicity, a guitar and a voice and the truth: true love redeems. Cold One is just cool, she grabs one of his long necks as she walks out on him. The arrangement is super and capped when the pickers break into a hoe-down like Alabama did in “If You’re Gonna Play In Texas.” Roller Coaster may never be a single, but the arrangement is remarkably interesting and full of surprises. Talledega is a young man’s coming of age song well-told about that great trip with your buds, when you were young and virile and alive and optimistic. Broke Record is about the drug of lust, when you’re so into it your friends are just sick of hearing about it. That’s Damn Rock n’ Roll is about one of my least-favorite song topics, that bein’ about being in the music business. But this one is as good as has ever been done about that particular subject. The Joint is bold, enthralling every step of the way, from the groove, to the processing on the mic, to the trombone. It’s about the joint mama burned (and it wasn’t a doobie.) This here is one amazing album. They don’t make ’em any better.

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