Dwight Yoakam, Austin City Limits: Live From Austin, TX: Dwight Yoakam

Andrew Mueller

By Andrew Mueller

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

When Dwight Yoakam recorded this sparkling live set for the Austin City Limits television show in 1988, many still viewed his accession to stardom with a certain amount of suspicion. Nashville's obstinately conservative country music establishment thought he was a Californian parvenu, and the alternative sector regarded him as a pretty-boy pin-up packaged by the Music Row Machiavellis. Both were wrong.

The man who brought Bakersfield back.

The actually Kentucky-born, Ohio-raised, latterly Los Angeles-based Yoakam was no more or less than an extraordinarily fine singer and songwriter, besotted equally by the legacies of Gram Parsons and Buck Owens (an earlier appearance by Yoakam on Austin City Limits had persuaded Owens to end a decade of retirement, and Yoakam settled the debt in full with 2007's Dwight Sings Buck tribute album). By the time Yoakam made this recording, he'd filled three superb albums with delivery on his promise: 1986's Guitars, Cadillacs, 1987's Hillbilly Deluxe, 1988's Buenos Noches from a Lonely Room.

This set draws from all three of those records. While it inevitably lacks the gleaming polish of Yoakam's always immaculately produced recordings, it radiates the raffish, easygoing energy that eventually overwhelmed Yoakam's detractors and saw him embraced equally ardently by Nashville and by the alt-country tendency. Yoakam's exhumation and reanimation of Owens 'zestful, poppy Bakersfield Sound of the '50s and '60s was, and remains, irresistible, and the clear highlight of this set is Owens 'appearance on a rousing version of his signature tune "Streets of Bakersfield."