Shaver – Unshaven: Shaver Live at Smith’s Olde Bar
If you had a photographic memory, a video camera and an audio recorder, Unshaven would be your own private Shaver bootleg. (Yes, sounds can create vivid pictures.) You’d play it often to recapture that rip-roarin’ evening of honky tonk. Like any live show, you’d groan at the clinkers in the set list, yell for your favorite songs and wince at the mic feedback, squeaks and squawks. But damn it, this is Billy Joe Shaver — the fourth member of the holy country trinity of Waylon, Willie and Johnny.
This is a live record that captures Shaver with all his beauty marks, warts and pimples. It’s short on lame between-song banter and audience segments are kept to a minimum. Unshaven is like any Shaver show; it’s loud, beer-joint country-rock. If you spill your beer in enthusiasm, that’s OK, it just adds to the atmosphere and you can get another.
Who else but Shaver could pull off a line like this, from “Old Chunk of Coal”: “I’m gonna grow and glow til I’m pluperfect / I’m gonna be a diamond someday.” And that’s pluperfect in all forms of the word — foreign and domestic, past and present. Billy Joe’s son Eddy serves up lead guitar that’s raw and unrestrained; this is live music, folks, not Memorex.
You sometimes wonder if this is the record that Shaver has always wanted to release — spontaneous, bold and extremely comfortable in his element. This is what live music is always about.