Robert Earl Keen - No. 2 Live Dinner | RECORD STORE DAY

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Having signed his first major-label contract with Arista Texas, Robert Earl Keen Jr. says good-bye to Sugar Hill Records with "No. 2 Live Dinner," a concert recording that sums up his eight years and five earlier albums with the company. Keen has a gift for concocting musical stories that bring Texas to life in all its violent, sad, expansive, absurdist glory. His voice is still a ramshackle wreck, but he has learned how to minimize his melodic weaknesses while maximizing his storytelling strengths. Furthermore, Keen's song introductions are often as funny and imaginative as his best songs. Recorded at two 1995 shows in Texas, No. 2 Live Dinner includes a funny tale about his doomed early efforts at a career and an even funnier one about how his car caught fire at Willie Nelson's second-ever Fourth of July picnic. --Geoffrey Himes