Flatlanders Now Again

By all rights, the Flatlanders' Now Again would be up there in the mainstream country charts, if indeed those charts actually represented country music. As it is, the Big Hats are missing out on a truly great, near-perfect country record. As twangy as Texas is flat, veterans Joe Ely, Butch Hancock and Jimmy Dale Gilmore put out some fine and dusty music as naturally as old Hank himself; keeping tunes like "Julia" out of your head all day is a task in itself. Small dramas like "Down in the Light of the Melon Moon" to the swinging heartache of "Waving My Heart Goodbye" catch you by the ear and won't let go. Now Again is an apt title for this collection, as the Flatlanders banded together back in 1971, got laughed out of Nashville, managed to get an eight-track recorded the following year, headed to Austin and promptly split up. Eight years later, those tunes found their way onto wax in the UK and then were re-released on Rounder as More A Legend Than a Band. Since then, the guys have enjoyed significant solo careers. In 1997, they created a stir with their contribution to The Horse Whisperer soundtrack, followed by an appearance on Letterman. But it was after they performed on the Townes Van Zandt tribute record that they realised they missed playing together, and Now Again is their love child. (New West)