Townes Van Zandt | Sunshine Boy: The Unheard Studio Sessions

Article Contributed by conqueroo | Published on Monday, November 26, 2012

As musicologist Colin Escott writes in his liner notes for the upcoming Omnivore Recordings release of the late Townes Van Zandt’s Sunshine Boy: The Unheard Studio Sessions and Demos 1971-1972, “The art of Townes Van Zandt reveals a little at a time. Every hearing brings forth something you can’t believe you missed all the other times, or something that rings even truer today than way back when.”

Omnivore will give listeners more to discover in Townes Van Zandt when the 28-song, two-CD set is released on February 5, 2013. The recordings that comprise the set have been hidden away in the vault since their initial recording and are now presented with the cooperation of the estate. Due to acquisitions by various labels of the initial Poppy Records recordings, these session recordings have sat on the shelf with no one knowing quite where to find them — until now.

Following ten studio albums, several singles and several live albums, the troubled life of the influential singer-songwriter, performer and poet came to a close on New Years Day 1997.

Omnivore is pleased to finally be able to present, after many years in the works, a two-CD set of previously unavailable music from the Texas singer-songwriter’s classic albums High, Low & In Between and The Late Great Townes Van Zandt. One disc features outtakes and alternate takes/mixes of tracks from the sessions for those LPs; the other highlights solo demos. The set offers a window into the work that went into those two brilliant recordings, from a time when Van Zandt was at the height of his songwriting powers.

With alternate takes and mixes of songs like “To Live Is To Fly” (presented in both alternate take and demo form) and the classic "Pancho & Lefty" (a mix made alongside the known version, but without the strings and horns of the commercial version), Sunshine Boy is an essential release for all true Townes Van Zandt fans. The quiet and largely solo demo disc provides an intimate portrait of Van Zandt demo-ing songs, some of which would become his best-known compositions.

As Escott explains, “alternate versions add an entirely new dimension, like seeing someone you thought you knew so well in a new light. The new songs are simply good to have when it seemed the barrel was empty. And so here are more than two hours of Townes Van Zandt — music unheard since the engineer peeled off a little splicing tape to seal the box 40 years ago.”

Escott’s comprehensive liner notes, unseen photographs from the era and some entirely unheard songs, make this collection a must-have for fans of one of the best songwriters of his time.

Track listing:

Disc One: Studio Sessions
1. T for Texas
2. Who Do you Love
3. Sunshine Boy
4. Where I Lead Me
5. Blue Ridge Mountains
6. No Deal
7. Pancho & Lefty (Alternate 1972 mix without strings and horns)
8. To Live is to Fly
9. You Are Not Needed Now
10. Don’t Take it Too Bad
11. Sad Cinderella
12. Mr. Mudd & Mr. Gold
13. White Freight Liner Blues
14. Two Hands
15. Lungs
16. Dead Flowers

Disc Two: Demos
1. Heavenly Houseboat Blues
2, Diamond Heel Blues
3 To Live is to Fly
4. Tower Song
5. You Are Not Needed Now
6. Mr. Mudd & Mr. Gold
7. Highway Kind
8. Greensboro Woman
9. When He Offers His Hand
10. Dead Flowers
11. Old Paint
12. Standin’