Old 97's & Waylon Jennings
- Released: September 30, 2013
- Originally Released: 2013
- Label: Omnivore Recordings
- 1.Iron Road - Old 97's & Waylon Jennings
- 2.The Other Shoe - Old 97's & Waylon Jennings
- 3.Visiting Hours (1996 Demo) - Old 97's
- 4.Fireflies (Take 2, 1996 Demo) - Old 97's
- 5.London I Know - Old 97's
- 6.Born On A Train - Old 97's
Personnel: Rhett Miller (vocals, guitar); Murry Hammond (vocals); Ken Bethea (guitar); Philip Peepies (drums).
Liner Note Author: Rhett Miller.
Recording information: Dallas, TX; Sound Emporium, Nashville, TN.
The Old 97's were doing pretty well for themselves in 1996 -- they were getting great press for their excellent album Wreck Your Life and were poised to sign a major-label record deal -- when they got the sort of endorsement four guys from Texas who loved country music could only dream about. Waylon Jennings saw the band perform at a country radio conference, and he gave the Old 97's what amounted to a rave review in an interview with the Austin Chronicle. Waylon was impressed enough with the Old 97's that when they broached the idea of cutting a single together, he agreed, and the band recorded two tunes with Jennings that, for a variety of reasons, went unreleased until 2013. This EP collects that unreleased collaborative single along with four rare and/or unreleased Old 97's tracks. While Rhett Miller's "The Other Shoe" is a fine song and Jennings seems to relish its tale of cuckolded husbands and violent revenge, it's Murry Hammond's "Iron Road" that sounds like it was made to measure for Waylon and his cranky strength. The tale of a wanderer whose life has gone nowhere brings out the best in Jennings, and the bandmembers clearly give their all for one of their heroes, sounding sharp and fiery. If these two songs had been released in 1996, it probably wouldn't have changed the shape of the careers of either Jennings or the Old 97's beyond raising their mutual level of hipness, but there's a lot of love and respect on display here, and it's good to hear Waylon with some young whippersnappers who know what he's worth. The other four tracks on this EP are solo acoustic demos from Rhett Miller -- three originals, the other a cover of Stephin Merritt's "Born on a Train" -- and while they're mainly for completists, there's no argument that he has a great voice and he sings these songs well. Fans of either Waylon Jennings or the Old 97's will want to give this a listen, though they're most likely to wear out the first two tracks and spend less time with the rest. ~ Mark Deming
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