What these sound recordings attempt to do is to bring you face-to-face — or, perhaps more appropriately, sound to-heart — with actual works of the troubadours and, occasionally, of others in their circle of influence. The task is daunting for so many reasons: songs got written down decades, even centuries, after their dates of creation; only about ten percent of the original melodies survive; and most direct knowledge of how performers worked out their interpretations at the time has been lost. We know nothing whatsoever about the singing style, or about the techniques of instrumental accompaniment that may have been employed. These performances, therefore, of necessity, reflect a confluence of musicological and philological knowledge with performers' instincts and intuitions, as all of these tendencies interacted with each other at a specific moment in history, the late twentieth century.
Texas Troubadour is a four-disc box set that packages the late songwriter Townes Van Zandt's first seven studio albums for the Poppy and Tomato labels: For the Sake of the Song (1968); Our Mother the Mountain (1969); Townes Van Zandt (1970); Delta Momma Blues (1971); High, Low and In Between (1972); The Late Great Townes Van Zandt (1972), and Flyin' Shoes (1978). In addition, there are four studio outtakes from 1972-73 and a decent portion of Live at the Old Quarter, Houston issued in 1973. Charly reproduces the original cover art in miniature, two covers to each CD. Sound is the same as on the original CD issues, so fans who already own these albums will not be served by purchasing them again in this format. Musically, the work is superb, and since many of Van Zandt's recordings are out of print, this is a fine argument for getting them altogether. Another plus is Adam Komorowski's extensive biographical essay included in the 36-page color booklet that's loaded with photos.