Rear View Mirror

by: Townes Van Zandt

In 1990, Townes Van Zandt was working on a three-CD retrospective for which he was re-recording much of his repertoire. That album never appeared, but in 1993, the tiny Austin-based Sundown label released Rear View Mirror, a 17-track album running nearly 58 minutes and containing newly recorded versions of Van Zandt songs dating back to 1968. Though a cover note claims "unique instrumentation," that seems to consist of only of an occasional second guitar and a fiddle. (Sparse applause indicates the recording had been made in a club.) Many of Van Zandt's best-known songs are included -- "Pancho & Lefty," "If I Needed You," "To Live Is to Fly," "Tecumseh Valley," and others -- and while this is not the best set of recordings of those songs, the tendency of Van Zandt's albums to go out of print might mean this is the only one you would find in your nearest record bin, in which case the album is highly recommended. ~ William Ruhlmann

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