Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Jimmie Dale Gilmore [extended]

  • Jimmie Dale Gilmore [HighTone, 1989] A-
  • More a Legend Than a Band [Rounder, 1990] A-
  • "After Awhile" [Elektra, 1991] A-
  • Spinning Around the Sun [Elektra, 1993] A
  • Braver Newer World [Elektra, 1996] ***
  • One Endless Night [Rounder, 2000] **
  • Now Again [New West, 2002] **
  • Wheel of Fortune [New West, 2004] Dud
  • Hills and Valleys [New West, 2009] **

See Also:

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Jimmie Dale Gilmore [HighTone, 1989]
Cut in Joe Ely's basement, Gilmore's 1988 debut sank or swam with his rather pinched delivery, so if it contained anything as gorgeous as Gilmore-Hancock's "See the Way" and "When the Nights Are Cold," there was no way to know it. Cut in Nashville, this one beefs up both voice and settings. The imagistic honky tonk of Gilmore's "Dallas" and Hancock's "Red Chevrolet" are why poets would-be like steel guitars. Mel Tillis is tapped for a sneakily oblique opener. And the rest is the kind of principled professionalism that's made Randy Travis a heartthrob. A-

The Flatlanders: 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-

"After Awhile" [Elektra, 1991]
Gilmore being something of a mystic, I expect transcendence of him, and on his two previous records Butch Hancock gave it to me: "When the Nights Are Cold" on Jimmie Dale Gilmore, "See the Way" on The Flatlanders. This basically self-composed major-label whozis is solider than either, solid like the quality country album it ain't--Gilmore may not be writing so metaphysical any more, though "Go To Sleep Alone" is pretty deep, but he still sings like a space cadet. Still, some kind of quality album it is. The nearest it comes to a peak is a Butch Hancock song. A-

Spinning Around the Sun [Elektra, 1993]
Never one for automatic poetry, Gilmore chooses to showcase precisely four of the new songs he's managed in the past two years, and even though Butch Hancock and Al Strehli provide appropriate camouflage, somebody up there must have expected a grander statement, because this major-label follow-up is gussied up like just that. The voice transmutes Major Tom into Roy Orbison, the production glistens like Garth, and fast or slow the tempos never waver. All of which may strike the pure of heart as icky, or inappropriate, but I doubt I'll hear a more gorgeous country record--maybe a more gorgeous record--anytime soon. And unlike "After Awhile", this one doesn't let up--ends with a spooky Lucinda Williams duet and three of those four new songs, two of which were definitely worth the trouble. A

Braver Newer World [Elektra, 1996]
trying to prove he's not trad, which we knew already ("Black Snake Moan," "Borderland") ***

One Endless Night [Rounder, 2000]
Not the standards album he has in him ("Mack the Knife," "Ripple"). **

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

The Flatlanders: Wheel of Fortune [New West, 2004] Dud

The Flatlanders: 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"). **