Steve Earle & the Dukes | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Steve Earle & the Dukes

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As rush jobs stuffed with filler go, you could do a lot worse than Steve Earle's The Revolution Starts Now (E-Squared/Artemis). Hurriedly packaged for pre-election-day release, the album exists mainly for the sake of two pissed-off roots-country anthems (the title track and "F the CC") and one protest ballad ("Rich Man's War"). Elsewhere, it bears the flaws that come with haste: "Condi, Condi" is a jokey mash note to Condoleezza Rice, but I'm not sure what the joke is, and "Warrior" haphazardly (if fluently) jumbles rhetoric from Henry V and the book of Exodus. But the sloppiness helps Earle's music retain some rough edges, making this a worthy addition to a discography that gets better as it gets scruffier. Such rawness can be surprisingly hard to come by: revisit Guitar Town (1986) or Exit 0 (1987) and you'll hear more Nashville sheen than his early outlaw rep suggested, and even his fine post-jail-and-addiction run, launched with Train a Comin' (1995), has had its overcooked moments. On Revolution, however, Earle generally forgoes refinement and sticks with the elegance of simplicity. This strategy works well on "Comin' Around," a straightforward love duet with Emmylou Harris, and better still on "F the CC," where he and his bandmates chant "F-U-C-K" in the grand old hey-ho-let's-go cadence--tying up punk's political and musical strands in a four-letter bow. Allison Moorer opens. Saturday 16, 8 PM, the Vic, 3145 N. Sheffield, 773-472-0449 or 312-559-1212, $26, 18+.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Glen Rose.

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