Dylan purists, look away now.
The Grand Theatre
Solid sawdust floor-fillers, with a little light sacrilege.
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.