CD Review: Old 97’s


Old 97’s
Hit By a Train: The Best of Old 97’s
Elektra/Rhino
By David Chiu

Old 97’s provide the perfect mood soundtrack if you are in some dingy southwestern dive downing whiskey sours, feeling a little heartbroken, or wanting to dance. Upon closer examination, this Dallas alt-country group fronted by Rhett Miller sounds more punk and Stones-y than say Johnny Cash (although Old 97’s music is no less rootsy and rebellious as the Man in Black’s). Greater commercial success may have eluded the group, which is why this latest best-of might be a good way for the uninitiated to get started. The sound has an edgy Southern Gothic/honky tonk/Tex-Mex shuffle about them, especially on the first couple of songs (“Stoned,” “Cryin’Drunk”); even the old Marty Robbins’ chestnut “El Paso” is given a good galloping kick in the ass. The remaining couple of songs from the Elektra years find Old 97’s can almost be described as power pop sound (i.e. the extremely catchy “King of All the World”). The group also proves its live mettle with strong performances of “Barrier Reef” and “Nineteen” that closes this nifty compilation full of upbeat (musically-speaking) melodic rockers.

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