Poet, Fool or Bum/Back on the Street Again

Poet, Fool or Bum/Back on the Street Again

by Lee Hazlewood


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Known best (if at all) for Charles Shaar Murray's one-word review in the NME ("Bum."), Poet, Fool or Bum caught Lee Hazlewood in a sentimental, chagrined mode that didn't compare well to his earlier hard-bitten material. The production didn't help, either; Hazlewood said he allowed Jimmy Bowen to produce it because Bowen needed the money, and there's no trace of Hazlewood's cunning production finesse. His songs weren't all bad, though. Alongside one song each from Tom Waits and Leonard Cohen, Hazlewood sounded much more contented than he had in the past ("Heaven Is My Woman's Love," "Feathers," "Come Spend the Morning"), but allowed himself some room for his road-weary persona ("Nancy and Me," "Wind, Sky, Sea and Sand," "Think I'm Coming Down"). In 1977, after four years of recording for Swedish audiences, Hazlewood returned for Back on the Street Again, another weak record. This one was produced by Bobby Bobcine, a German radio programmer who ushered Hazlewood into the same studio used by the Scorpions and introduced him to an inexperienced duet partner named Sheri Garbo. The results were polished within an inch of their lives; as on Poet, Fool or Bum, Hazlewood's songs weren't always bad -- "Your Thunder and Your Lightning" was an acceptable single -- but they were always pitifully produced. Ending the record (and his studio career, until 1993) was his worst song, the nearly self-explanatory "Dolly Parton's Guitar" (as in, "You've made me happier than..."). Most Hazlewood fans need to hear everything he recorded, making this EMI two-fer a useful acquisition, since it'd be terrible to pay too much for a pair of records worth so little.

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