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GhostOfTomJoad

Chris Whitley's Living With The Law

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I'm not even joking when I say I didn't take that CD out of my CD Player for 6 months. Just an amazing album. I met him at Ruby's BBQ late one night after he played a show at The Back Room, and dude was all smacked out. I told my buddy that night he might not live to make a second album. He did make more music, but I didn't think either of his other albums came close to Living With the Law. 

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Yeah, the dude was filled with demons. Fuck cancer, but everyone who ever met or worked with the guy figured him an overdose waiting to happen.

And you're right that his other works were very different in sound & scope. The heavy influence of his substance issues filled most of his immediate follow up work. Dirt Floor is very listenable. Just a lo-fi, two-track analog recording of Chris, his guitar & boot stomping out the beat. Think an album's worth of Phone Call from Leavenworth off LWTL.

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Malcolm Burn (a compatriot of Daniel Lanois) co-produced the Living With the Law album. He's worked with some of the best over the years, but I think he nailed every bit of Whitley's Texas sandstorm  national guitar and fever dream lyrics in that album. Song for song, I'll put that album up with Astral Weeks and Darkness on the Edge of Town as some the highest examples of story pictures, if that makes sense. You start at track one and nothing can interrupt you until the needle tracks into the final runoff groove.

Edited by GhostOfTomJoad

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I used to have that album but I can't locate it. I might have traded it in at a used record store or it might be in a box in a back room somewhere. I mainly bought it for Big Sky Country, a copy of which I ripped for a mix disc and is still on my computer. 

I saw him in concert a couple of times. Just him solo playing in bars where we paid cover at the door so no ticket stubs. I'm pretty sure I still have his set list from off his monitor at the show I saw in Cleveland. The shows I saw were SO different than the sound on LWTL. A lot more raw and gritty.

I actually picked up two copies of his Live at Martyr's CD at his shows because I didn't remember I already had a copy when I saw him the second time. I still have one in the original plastic wrap. I can't imagine I would've traded the other back in. I'd think that if anything I'd have kept the open one and sold the other. So it's possible both those other albums are in a box somewhere. I probably won't find them until after I open the mint condition Martyr's (which is not on the Messenger label, I'm not sure if that makes it particularly collectible).

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nice post.  one of my favorite albums too.  saw him live and one of my most memorable concerts.  this dude did not, and does not, get the props he deserves.

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That show at the Backroom was the same night that Lenny Kravitz played the FEC with The Cult opening. I'm as big a fan of The Cult as you will find, but there was no way I was missing Chris Whitley. I can't remember who opened for Chris, but in typical Backroom fashion, everything was running late. The lights finally dimmed, and everyone starts clapping and cheering and moving up toward the stage, and as we start getting kind of packed together I bumped into the guy standing next to me. I look over and apologize, and it's fucking Billy Duffy from The Cult. 

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