Old 97’s: The Grand Theatre

Solid sawdust floor-fillers, with a little light sacrilege.

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Dylan purists, look away now.

On their eighth album kick-ass Dallas country rockers Old 97’s have ‘re-imagined’ Dylan’s epic Desolation Row as a sprightly saloon canter, giving it fresh lyrics and a new title, Champaign, Illinois. Only the original’s melody remains the same and, let’s be honest, it wasn’t that original to start with.

Old 97’s have always dealt in the reassuringly familiar, though, taking the redneck rush of, say, Jason & The Scorchers, and giving it a Clash-like stomp.

It’s best heard here on the opening title track (shades of London Calling) and Every Night Is Friday Night (Without You), although there’s a purer, more traditional chick-a-boom country vibe to Rhett Miller’s Let The Whiskey Take The Reins and Murray Hammond’s You Were Born To Be In Battle, while the latter’s You Smoke Too Much makes a surprising detour from the norm by daring to dabble in mid-tempo Motownisms.

Terry Staunton was a senior editor at NME for ten years before joined the founding editorial team of Uncut. Now freelance, specialising in music, film and television, his work has appeared in Classic Rock, The Times, Vox, Jack, Record Collector, Creem, The Village Voice, Hot Press, Sour Mash, Get Rhythm, Uncut DVD, When Saturday Comes, DVD World, Radio Times and on the website Music365.