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Old 97's

Old 97's Biography

One of the most popular bands in the alternative country movement's rock & roll wing, Old 97's hailed from Dallas and drew their inspiration from cla**ic country, bar band rock, the raw sound of early punk, and -- especially on their later records -- the tight songcraft of power pop. br /br /The band was formed in 1993 by singer/guitarist Rhett Miller and ba**ist Murry Hammond; Miller had previously played around the Dallas area as a folksinger and a British-style pop devotee and actually earned a creative writing scholarship to Sarah Lawrence College but dropped out to return to Texas and concentrate on music. When he teamed up with Hammond, his original material was allowing the influence of Texas country to seep in. The two soon added lead guitarist Ken Bethea and recorded their initial demo tape at Austin's famed Cedar Creek studio. Drummer Philip Peeples also came on board, and in 1994, Old 97's issued their debut album, Hitchhike to Rhome, on the indie label Big Iron. It received positive reviews and began to build the group's alt-country fan base, which they consolidated on the follow-up, Wreck Your Life. Issued on alt-country stalwart Bloodshot Records in 1995, Wreck Your Life fleshed out the group's sound and presented them as a sharp, eclectic country-rock outfit.br /br /The positive attention given to the band's two indie albums led to a major-label deal with Elektra Records, on which Old 97's debuted in 1997 with Too Far to Care. Critics hailed the album as the best balance yet between the group's Texas traditionalism and pop leanings and placed the band among the leaders of the alt-country movement. Their next release, 1999's Fight Songs, actually began to move away from their country influences, offering a more polished, pop-friendly set of songs. By this time, Miller had moved to Los Angeles and shed the thick '50s-style gla**es that had become a major part of his image; he and Hammond were also performing in an informal side project dubbed the Ranchero Brothers. 2001's Satellite Rides had an even stronger power pop flavor and once again received highly positive reviews. Miller subsequently took a temporary leave from Old 97's to record his solo power pop debut, The Instigator, which was released in late 2002. br /br /A lengthy period of relative inactivity followed, as the bandmembers found themselves in different cities and starting families, only sporadically seeing each other and playing small dates. 2004 changed all that with the recording of their sixth album, Drag It Up, on New West, and the subsequent tour, which featured prominently on their 2005 double-disc live release Alive & Wired. In 2006, Elektra issued Hit by a Train: The Best of Old 97's, which contained songs released prior to the band's 2004 label switch. ~ Steve Huey, All Music Guide

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