Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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The Flatlanders

  • More a Legend Than a Band [Rounder, 1990] A-
  • Now Again [New West, 2002] **
  • Wheel of Fortune [New West, 2004] Dud
  • Hills and Valleys [New West, 2009] **

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Consumer Guide Reviews:

More a Legend Than a Band [Rounder, 1990]
In 1972, Joe Ely, Butch Hancock, and leader Jimmie Dale Gilmore--drumless psychedelic cowboys returned to Lubbock from Europe and San Francisco and Austin--recorded in Nashville for Shelby Singleton, and even an eccentric like the owner of the Sun catalogue and "Harper Valley P.T.A." must have considered them weird. With a musical saw for theremin effects, their wide-open spaceyness was released eight-track only, and soon a subway troubadour and an architect and a disciple of Guru Mararaji had disappeared back into the diaspora. In cowpunk/neofolk/psychedelic-revival retrospect, they're neotraditionalists who find small comfort in the past, responding guilelessly and unnostalgically to the facts of displacement in a global village that includes among its precincts the high Texas plains. They're at home. And they're lost anyway. A-

Now Again [New West, 2002]
living in the moment gets old ("Going Away," "Now It's Now Again") **

Wheel of Fortune [New West, 2004] Dud

Hills and Valleys [New West, 2009]
A supernal voice, a lousy voice and a voice grown strident with the years--leveled by age, united by words of wisdom ("Homeland Refugees," "Borderless Love"). **