|I became aware
of Butch Hancock when he opened for Cowboy Junkies in '89.
I became aware of Jimmie Dale Gilmore when i bought the import of this
album long before it was available on a US label.
Butch and Jimmie Dale are, individually, excellent songwriters and
performers in a "high lonesome" style.
Together they are dynamite.
From the opening track, A.P. Carter's "Hello Stranger" on to the end,
with Butch's truly surreal "West Texas Waltz" (with some of the most
outrageous rhymes ever perpetrated with a straight face) there are no
low points in this album, only, as Lucy van Pelt once put it "ups and
Jimmie Dale's "Tonight I Think I'm Gonna Go Downtown" and "Dallas" are
meditations on the two sides of the coin of the urban experience.
"Howlin' at Midnight" could be vintage Hank Sr. -- i understand it's by
Butch's "Two Roads" and "Already Gone" illustrate what Joe Ely has
described as Butch's tendency to write "seven minute novellas", but
they're fine stuff, for all that -- especially "Gone" with its
transition from a song about blighted love to its pointed commentary on
the treatment of First American tribes.
"Firewater (Seeks Its Own Level)" always put me in mind of a friend who
used to play bass in another band.
"Special Treatment" (with Paul Kelly) is a song about a real Australian
Government program to take Aborigine infants to be raised in white
homes to help the Abos "acculturate" faster... Sad and quiet, it's
horrifying in its implications.
This is a Very Special Album -- two of the Austin alt.country
movement's leading lights, together, live, at their peak.