Known as the  “Athens of the South”, Nashville is a musical magnet attracting songwriters and musicians to head on down to this “Music City” to philosophise in song and verse.

So it’s no surprise that a songwriter and musician of Walter Egan’s calibre found himself gravitating there following the life-changing events of his father’s death and his marriage heading for the skids.

Nevertheless, out of destruction comes creation and, with Nashville being a city famed for its co-write practices, a flexible change in working habits as a solo writer found Egan collaborating with resident composers to distil the complex emotions of his life into song; enabling him to shed a skin or two and move forward with his life.

The first fruits of popping his Nashville cherry: Walternative – more about which elsewhere – set his new scene and with the creative juices flowing there was enough top-grade unreleased material to start a follow-up album which became Apocalypso Now.

An amalgam of outtakes and misfits, it’s an album that benefits from this redux mastering as the rockabilly hued Far And Away rolls out a red carpet of rowdy country-rock and tender tinctured tunes. Check out Love Is In Your Veins for Egan’s octave range and high octane guitar skills along with his insightful prose, and you have the essence of this artist distilled into just over three minutes of pure class. As much is true of the acoustic moments in which a wistful Ten Years Ago narrates a rekindling of romantic emotions stylistically contrasted by the pumping wig out of Stubborn Girl.

Elsewhere, Time And The Rain floats upon a feather-light pillow of soft sonics buoyed along by deft musicianship. Not so much a misfit, or an outtake, than a replay from the Mad Dog sessions, Only Love Is Left Alive, with Christine McVie on backing vocals, slots in perfectly to find a new home here with Egan excelling on guitar all the way to the outro.

Egan even sneaks in a salute to the Gene Clark Byrds period on The Reason Why where he eerily blends in his vocal like the lost sixth member of this golden era band. No surprise there with him being a later member of The Flying Burrito Brothers and his close friendship with Gram Parsons. Close your eyes and it’s easy to imagine Gram Parsons chiming in on the trad “Nashvillian” tones of Rain In Tennessee.

As part of a tranche of re-releases, Egan’s remarkable legacy of recordings is swelled by this shining example of stellar country-rock, ballads, and intense blasts of rock’n’roll that verge on punkabilly skilfully polished up on this quality redux recording

Here is a breakdown of the album’s tracks:

Far And Away – a collaboration with keyboardist Chris P James.

Love Is In Your Veins – written to submit for the Anne Rice Vampire film that was about to be made at the time.

Ten Years Ago – written in NYC before the move and about Walter’s then wife.

Stubborn Girl – a rewrite of the song about his son, Stubborn Boy, contoured to fit for his young daughter. Also released as an accompanying single.

Time And The Rain – the writing of this tune dates from the early seventies.

Only Love Is Left Alive – this had already been recorded during the “Mad Dog” sessions. However, he had no idea those recordings would ever surface. The original take of this song is on the recent Mad Dog redux release.

Better Days – an elegy about his old bandmate Matt Sheppard (which has resurfaced in a new recording on the Malibooz QE2).

The Reason Why – he recorded this tune for the Gene Clark “Full Circle” tribute album.

Wanting You – this tune made it to a movie called “The Stalking Of Laurie Snow” which was made for TV; a collaboration with Ed Berghoff.

The Rain In Tennessee – this is probably the first song Walter wrote upon moving to Nashville.

You Pay For Love – this song was written in Los Angeles in the eighties.

You’re Gonna Miss Me – the 13th Floor Elevator tune from the sixties that Egan used to play in his college band.

Lullaby – written in the eighties for his son.

This redux includes four unreleased live bonus tracks of Ten Years Ago, Stubborn Girl, Used To Love Her and Star In The Dust.

Walter Egan
Apocalypso Now
(Red Steel Music)
9/10
By Paul Davies

About The Author

I began my career in journalism at the now defunct, pre-digital Smash Hits magazine, which was situated in London's Carnaby Street. After learning the ropes, I washed up at Vox Magazine, essentially the NME'S monthly magazine, as the Internet arrived into our lives. Thereon, I eventually graduated onto Q Magazine when people still treasured the magazine that they bought. My journalistic career since has been on newspapers at The Times, The Independent/i newspaper, Daily & Sunday Express and, ofcourse, National Rock Review.

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