Old 97’s: Most Messed Up

US roots-rockers toast their 20th anniversary.

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Dallas quartet Old 97’s have been at it for over two decades now, fortified by an unswerving belief in the restorative power of rock‘n’roll and an appetite for self-destruction that seems to know few limits.

It’s all laid out on opening track Longer Than You’ve Been Alive, in which singer Rhett Miller recalls oceans of booze and mountains of weed during their time criss-crossing the States and Europe, where the open road is really the only place to be. These are tales both celebratory and cautionary, delivered with the kind of vigour that would make most bands wilt.

And while Lets Get Drunk & Get It On might suggest that Old 97’s are little more than a beery good-time band, the songs are deceptive, displaying a rare sense of craft and erudition.

Rob Hughes

Freelance writer for Classic Rock since 2008, and sister title Prog since its inception in 2009. Regular contributor to Uncut magazine for over 20 years. Other clients include Word magazine, Record Collector, The Guardian, Sunday Times, The Telegraph and When Saturday Comes. Alongside Marc Riley, co-presenter of long-running A-Z Of David Bowie podcast. Also appears twice a week on Riley’s BBC6 radio show, rifling through old copies of the NME and Melody Maker in the Parallel Universe slot. Designed Aston Villa’s kit during a previous life as a sportswear designer. Geezer Butler told him he loved the all-black away strip.