Grand Theatre, Vol. 1

The Grand Theatre, Vol. 1

by Old 97's
     
 
Of all the great bands that came out of the 1990s alt-country boom, the Old 97's were the one that seemed least bound to what became the conventions of the genre -- in a scene full of would-be Gene Vincents, they were four Buddy Hollys, guys who knew how to rock out, but weren't afraid to wear their hearts

Overview

Of all the great bands that came out of the 1990s alt-country boom, the Old 97's were the one that seemed least bound to what became the conventions of the genre -- in a scene full of would-be Gene Vincents, they were four Buddy Hollys, guys who knew how to rock out, but weren't afraid to wear their hearts on their sleeves and toss some sweet pop melodies in with their Texas-style fusion of regular-guy honky tonk and nervy rock & roll. After the Old 97's tenure with Elektra Records ended following 2001's Satellite Rides, they continued to make albums, and good ones at that, but they didn't hit the target quite the same way, and as lead singer Rhett Miller began dividing his time between the band and a solo career, a certain tight focus seemed to fade from their music. Thankfully, The Grand Theatre, Vol. 1 is where the Old 97's get their old mojo back. If it's not radically different in terms of songwriting or arrangement than Drag It Up or Blame It on Gravity, there's a taut energy on songs like "The Magician," "Every Night Is Friday Night (Without You)," and "A State of Texas" that this band hasn't summoned in close to a decade, and the moodier numbers such as "Let the Whiskey Take the Reins" and "Love Is What You Are" speak from the heart and soul of a guy who's in love and not liking it, with an uncanny ear for the details. Miller's vocals sound tough and honest throughout, Ken Bethea's guitar work is simple, solid, and fits the spaces just right, and Murray Hammond and Phillip Peeples still serve up some of the most indefatigable shuffles on the planet. And not every band has the talent and the gall to rewrite "Desolation Row" and make it click, but the Old 97's achieve that lofty goal on "Champaign, Illinois." Saying The Grand Theatre, Vol. 1 is a return to form unnecessarily belittles the last few Old 97's albums that came before it, but calling it their best album since Fight Songs is just about right.

Product Details

Release Date:
10/12/2010
Label:
New West Records
UPC:
0607396619023
catalogNumber:
6190
Rank:
135381

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