Flatlanders Wheels of Fortune

Flatlanders Wheels of Fortune
Long before the Jayhawks, Uncle Tupelo and Whiskeytown, there were the Flatlanders — who originally formed in 1971 and are now revered in music circles as pioneers of alt-country. With Wheels of Fortune, it’s easy to see why. The talented trio of troubadours — Lubbock, Texas mates Joe Ely, Jimmie Dale Gilmore and Butch Hancock — are better known for their individual songwriting careers; together, however, is where one discovers the true magic of these well-travelled tellers of tales. The title track echoes early Eagles songs like "Lyin’ Eyes,” with its tight three-part harmony. Dale’s high and lonesome voice is mixed with Gilmore’s guttural and grainy pipes while Hancock’s hardened voice complements the other two. Amongst the remaining 13 tracks are old treasures dug from the band’s storied past, and some new creations. One of these well-weathered treasures is "Whistle Blues,” which was first written by Texas songwriter Al Strehli in the 1960s; it features a groovy and grinding guitar riff that mimics a train hurtling down the tracks. Other highlights include the Hank Williams-soaked "See the Way” and Cajun-style stomps like the accordion-driven "Go To Sleep Alone” and "Indian Cowboy.” The latter is one of the best tracks and is a tune Ely wrote during his time working at the circus during the mid-‘70s after a failed attempt at becoming a singer in New York. "Midnight Train” is a bluesy song that showcases yet another face of the Flatlanders’ sound. After 33 years, Wheels of Fortune show that these Texans still have a lot of songs buried in their collective souls that are worth preserving. (New West)