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Rodney Crowell

Diamonds & Dirt - Expanded Edition – 2001 (Columbia/Legacy)

Reviewed by Joel Bernstein

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CDs by Rodney Crowell

Rodney Crowell was not a star in the early '80's, but he was well known. He had several moderately successful solo albums with a few minor hit singles. His songs became smashes for the likes of Emmylou Harris, Waylon Jennings and even The Oak Ridge Boys. He was a successful producer as well.

But not until "Diamonds & Dirt" was released in 1988 did he become a star in his own right, albeit briefly. That album yielded an unprecedented five number one singles, beginning with "It's Such A Small World," a duet with his then wife Rosanne Cash. It still sounds damn good, even if one might wonder how far it would get with mainstream radio today. Crowell's new notes with this rerelease say the album was recorded with the philosophy "work fast and don't think." That's a sharp contrast to the usual major label approach and may explain why the music retains such a fresh sound. Three previously unreleased bonus tracks from the same sessions are quite good if somewhat less commercial, with "I've Got My Pride But I Got To Feed The Kids" being the best. An already essential album becomes even more so.