The Georgia-born outlaw country singer/songwriter/guitarist’s much-admired second album, with bonus tracks from all three versions plus a non-LP single.
Steve Young’s death at the age of 73 on 17 March 2016 drew admiring obituaries in British and US newspapers and notices on myriad country and roots music websites. A bittersweet irony was felt by those of us who noted how Young had been given scant attention whilst alive. Not that he had ever made covering him easy, he being the most enigmatic of artists, often completely dropping off the radar. When he did choose to return to the fray, he deliberately kept things low-key.
Why then obituaries for an artist who never enjoyed any kind of media profile or much chart success in his lifetime? Two reasons: Young wrote and recorded ‘Seven Bridges Road’, a song that became something of a standard, with recordings by Joan Baez, Iain Matthews, Rita Coolidge, the Eagles, Dolly Parton and many others. And the sheer artistry found on Young’s records – not only was he a fiercely original songwriter but a fine singer and masterful guitar picker – meant even if his albums sold few copies they were heard and praised by famous figures in American music. Herein lies a paradox. If Young had died after issuing only his first two or three albums, he would likely enjoy a reputation akin to that of Gram Parsons or Nick Drake. Instead, he enjoyed another 40-odd years on earth, living largely invisibly and contentedly on royalties generated by his most famous songs. The bulk of these royalties were derived from ‘Seven Bridges Road’, the title tune of his second album, recorded in Nashville with the cream of that city’s session men.
“Seven Bridges Road” was released three times, with different track listings on each occasion. It initially came out in 1972 on Reprise, then again in 1973, with changes, on the small independent Blue Canyon label. It was released for the final time in 1981 on Rounder, with a new recording of the title track and yet more changes to the track list. We include all 19 tracks that came out on the various releases plus a special bonus of two tracks recorded as a Reprise single in Los Angeles in 1970, with Ry Cooder co-producing and providing some vintage slide guitar and dobro.