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60 of 61 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrific, Evocative Music
Lucinda William's "Car Wheels on a Gravel Road" was released in 1998, her first record in six years. Her music is somewhat difficult to classify - part rock, part country, part Bonnie Raitt, with a dash of Louisiana. Many people identify Lucinda with the alt-country or "No Depression" group, which seems to fit as well as any label. I think she sounds like a more rock...
Published on October 25, 2004 by Westley

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18 of 26 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Nice extras, horrible sound
Add one more title to the list of unfortunate recent remastering jobs: Lucinda Williams' "Car Wheels On A Gravel Road".

I listened to the new version of "Car Wheels" (one of my two favorite Lucinda albums) through headphones for the first time last night and couldn't get beyond the second track. By now, this is a familiar story - anemic bass, too high volume...
Published on January 27, 2007 by bonsaipark


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60 of 61 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrific, Evocative Music, October 25, 2004
By 
Westley (Stuck in my head) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Car Wheels on a Gravel Road (Audio CD)
Lucinda William's "Car Wheels on a Gravel Road" was released in 1998, her first record in six years. Her music is somewhat difficult to classify - part rock, part country, part Bonnie Raitt, with a dash of Louisiana. Many people identify Lucinda with the alt-country or "No Depression" group, which seems to fit as well as any label. I think she sounds like a more rock version of Mary-Chapin Carpenter.

Regardless of the label, her music is very good, and she wrote or co-wrote all but one of these songs (Randy Week's "Can't Let Go"). The music is obviously finely-tuned and done with care, with a nice mixture of easy-paced rockers and ballads. Perhaps the best selection is "Jackson" - an extraordinarily beautiful song about driving through the South and missing (or not missing?) a lover. "Lake Charles" is another interesting song, with a nice, under-stated zydeco feel and dobro guitar. Anyone who has lived in the deep south will be particularly likely to appreciate this CD, if not only for the frequent mentions of Southern towns, including Jackson, Macon, Lafayette, Rosedale, Greenville, Nacodoches, Baton Rouge, and Vicksburg. The CD is like a musical travelogue, with each song an evocative post card sent from Lucinda's soul.

When it was released, "Car Wheels on a Gravel Road" was heralded with some of the best reviews of the year. Indeed, Lucinda even received a Grammy nomination for the CD - Rock Female Vocalist for "Can't Let Go;" sadly, she lost to Alanis Morissette's wailing "Uninvited." However, all of the acclaim perhaps set expectations too high for some listeners, as witnessed by some reviews here. I don't have any other Lucinda CDs, so I can't assert whether this CD is her best. Either way, however, you can't miss with this CD: filled with excellent music. And the cover photo is one of my all-time favorites! Most highly recommended.
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30 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Musical poetry, December 29, 2001
By 
Tyler Smith (Denver, CO United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Car Wheels on a Gravel Road (Audio CD)
"Poetry" is a word much too often used when it comes to describing the lyrics for popular tunes. Frequently, words set to music suffer badly when they are taken away from the musical setting. The lyrics of Lucinda Williams, however, deserve the description. "Car Wheels on a Gravel Road" offers streams of inspired imagery from one of the best popular songwriters of our time.
The landscape for much of Williams's poetry is, of course, the Deep South. The album is filled with observations of rural and small-town life: bars, fields, bridges, rivers, kitchens, small children, old men and women. The title cut shows what a writer can do when she turns a keen eye on the life around her. In the space of a few minutes, we get vivid images of bacon cooking in a kitchen, screen doors slamming, mothers chiding their children to pick up their toys, vistas of cottonfields and yards with old wrecks. If one of the goals of poetry is to hold a mirror up to life, the song succeeds brilliantly.
Lest someone new to the album (I'm not sure how many could be, with 211 reviews!) think that it's just a collection of pretty words, let it be said that the music in "Car Wheels" is absolutely essential to the life of the language. Another great song, "2 Kool To Be 4-Gotten," has a haunting guitar behind it that provides just the right amount of illumination for the dark lyrics. "Can't Let Go" and "Joy" are stompers that give Lucinda a chance to show off her great voice.
And what a voice it is. I think "intoxicating" might be the right word, but it probably doesn't do justice to it. She can growl (as on the last two songs mentioned), but she can purr as well, as on "Right in Time." She even gives a hint of a yodel on "Concrete and Barbed Wire."
If you think you're afraid of country music, don't use that as an excuse to avoid this record. It would be quite an injustice to label Lucinda Williams as a country singer, not because there's anything wrong with country singers, but because she could never be limited to one sound or style. Like all great singer/songwriters, she's a synthesizer. She uses styles to fit the needs of each song.
My voice may be lost among the many others singing the praises of this album, but don't let Lucinda's voice remain silent to you. If you are a music lover of any stripe, do yourself a favor and add "Car Wheels" to your collection.
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33 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bayou Blues-Rock and Images of Lost Love, February 6, 2000
By 
Eric A (Boston, MA, USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Car Wheels on a Gravel Road (Audio CD)
On this CD, Lucinda Williams continues the pattern of superb songwriting and fine arrangements she established with her 1992 masterpiece, SWEET OLD WORLD. That the follow-up CD took so long to complete bespeaks both the emotional struggles Williams draws from in her material and the sense of perfectionism she brings to her work. CAR WHEELS ON A GRAVEL ROAD is a steamy portrait of Williams' native Louisiana. It is lush with swampy images of small towns, which wind their way through moving songs of lost love, whether the mood is sad ("Jackson") or just plain disgusted ("Greenville"). Williams offers a travel guide to bayou country in "Lake Charles": an epitaph to a man who finally returns home in the freedom that death brings. She reveals her gutsy, bluesy side in "Can't Let Go" and the raw, angry swamp rock of "Joy". Some of her finest images of Southern squalor can be found in songs like the title track, "Car Wheels," "Metal Firecracker" and her tribute to blues legend Robert Johnson, "2 Kool 2 Be 4-Gotten". Perhaps the strongest songs musically are the hit-bound rocker "I Lost It" and the opening track, "Right In Time": a deep, erotic moan with a catchy, rocking chorus. The CD is propelled by the crisp rhythm section of drummer Donald Lindley and bassist John Ciambotti, with help from Williams' steadfast multi-instrumentalist, Gurf Morlix. The tight production is a collaboration between Williams and her band. Although Lucinda Williams' vocals may not be as well-developed as those of some of her contemporaries, her honest, poetic lyrics and authentic blues stylings make her one of today's most noteworthy singer-songwriters.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Superb--soulful with an understanding of human frailities., December 5, 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Car Wheels on a Gravel Road (Audio CD)
This is truly a very good CD by a great artist. Her voice and her music are both unique, but with roots in well recognized folk, rock and blues genres. She sings a Louiana version of folk and blues with a voice that sometimes has to stretch and strain. Her music doesn't fit easliy into predescribed categories. Sometimes it's quiet, sometimes its loud. Sometimes its blusy and sometimes it's just plain "folk". Usually its a blend. If you want sharp crisp Madison Avenue packaged lyrics that fit perfectly into tight little melodies, this is NOT your CD. Her music and lyrics are often rough around the edges. But if you've ever left or lost a lover, ever felt "lost" or even "found", and like --or hate-- the emotions those memories recall, or if you have a soul that understands the human journey through life, you'll like this CD. For example, the lyrics in "Lake Charles" don't rhyme, don't alwys fit exacly into the music, and are sung by Lucinda in a voice that sounds like Janis Joplin in a quiet mood. But this haunting and tender song about a dead lover/friend also invokes the feeling that the singer has come to grips with the loss as well, and teaches more about remembering your loss and letting it go than any other song I've ever heard. The chorus of "Did an angel whisper in your ear? Hold you close, and take away your fear, in that long last moment?"still affects me, in a way I don't understand, whenever I hear it. Maybe it reminds me that someday I'll face a "long, last moment", too. This is the first Lucinda Williams CD I've listened to. I gave the CD 4 stars simply because the CD tells me that this is an artist capable of even greater heights. If you want to know my tastes in music, they're probably not much help. I was raised on rock n' roll with an emphasis on the Grateful Dead and Bruce Springsteen--but I always had a collection of quieter folk music lying around, too --Joni Mitchell, James Taylor, Bob Dylan. Springsteen's quieter releases--"The Ballad of Tom Joad" and "Nebraska" remain my 2 favorites of his CD's. Today I listen to just about anything--Frank Sinatra, Garth Brooks, Patsy Cline, Tom Waits and Bruce Springsteen being my mainstays. These singers and their music have very little in common--except that each can evoke some facet of the human condition and put it into words and music. Lucina Williams is the same.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A solid 5 stars, January 20, 2007
This review is from: Car Wheels on a Gravel Road (Audio CD)
This has become one of my desert island CDs - right along with Joni Mitchell's "Hejira", Bob Dylan's "Desire", Stevie Wonder's "(well, ALL of his 1970's music), Emmylou Harris' "Wrecking Ball", Neil Young's Crazy Horse stuff... The song that really gets me is "2 Kool 2 Be 4-Gotten" - for that incredibly liquid guitar sound. It's not my favorite song on the CD - that is "Lake Charles", but hey - the next time I listen I'll probably have another favorite song. Every single selection on this CD is a masterpiece of the genre - there is not a single throwaway track in sight. This is roots soul music - anyone who has ever lived on a farm, hitchhiked across the countryside, found themselves alone and come to terms with their own sense of being, been hammered by the storms of life and love - would find a lot to like about this music. Her voice is not polished, it is not a five octave mindblower, it is not smooth or pitch-perfect. What Lucinda William's voice is though is... real, powerful, compelling and very sexy. This vocalist writes songs perfectly fitted to her instrument, and then creates a sound that washes over me in a hundred layers all at once. That's damn fine music in my book...
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Yes, clearly worth trading up, January 5, 2007
By 
Andrew Macgowan, III (Rochester, New York United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
The original Car Wheels is a five-star album if there ever was one. This landmark work is beyond question on of the finest albums of the 1990s. But you probably already know that. But does it really sound better, as there is some debate in this review section? (And the original is hardly shabby.) First, the difference in my pretty good car system (VW Monsoon, so nothing truly special) was not suble, if that's any help. If you have anything approaching a high-end system in your home or car, this is an easy call. The instruments just jump out of the speakers in a way the original mastering did not. Second, the added songs are certainly worth it. Third, the live set is mandatory if you love Lucinda; it was a great period of her live performances. So there you have it. And if you're new to Lucinda, it is hard to figure any down side to buying this. Get it.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Way She Moves, June 28, 2000
By 
E. K. Martin "kikidelosfeliz" (Los Angeles, CA United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Car Wheels on a Gravel Road (Audio CD)
I am not usually a country music fan, but I heard an interview of Lucinda Williams by David Byrne (of Talking Heads), in which he said she was one of the best songwriters he had ever heard. Then I was in a music store in Dublin, Ireland, and the proprietor said Car Wheels was the best CD he'd heard from America. I heard "Right in Time" and got chills down my spine. I love the line "I take off my bracelets and everything". The two line portrait in the title song of a child looking out the window in the back seat of a car with dirt on its face is perfect. Lucinda Williams has a gift for writing intensely personal lyrics that everyone can relate to. I listen to this CD over and over again while I'm driving and singing along, and am ordering copies for friends.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lucinda Williams rules!, May 17, 2000
This review is from: Car Wheels on a Gravel Road (Audio CD)
This is a great CD! Lucinda Williams' unique voice and brilliant heart-aching lyrics puts the listener into complete awe. Each song on "Car Wheels On A Gravel Road" is a hit. Lucinda sings honestly, drawing the listener into her songs enabling them to feel what she has felt.Her words beautifully capture the landscape of the southern United States ("Lake Charles", "Jackson"). Each song tells a wonderful story, full of incredible words and rhythms, of Lucinda's life experiences of love and moving on after love. Lucinda Williams is among my favorites including Bob Dylan and The Counting Crows. These musicians can really put on a show. I would strongly recommend this CD to any music loving fan.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great album gets a polish, January 29, 2007
By 
Daniel A. Marsh (Sherman, Texas United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Lucinda's quintessential album gets a bit of a production polish with this reissue that falls just short of a 10th anniversary. Yes, Disc One of this edition contains the original material from "Car Wheels," but, in my opinion, the songs sound MUCH, MUCH better - crisper, clearer, with greater definition. There was nothing wrong with the original production, but this one just pops out of my headphones and car stereo speakers with a bit more oomph.

Three added-value tracks follow "Jackson," the album closer. "Out of Touch" ended up on her "Essence" CD, and I think that version is the better one, but this early attempt is still interesting to hear. "Down the Big Road Blues" is a tremendous tune that did not make the final cut, probably because it's more of a pure blues number, unlike the material that did make it. And who can resist any version of "Still I Long For Your Kiss"? This music is sexy as hell!

"Car Wheels" is one of my favorite albums, and ranks alongside "World Without Tears" as my favorite Lucinda record. She's a phenomenal songwriter, able to craft deeply personal lyrics that have universal value, and has a voice to rival Bono's in its uniqueness. (Just as you'd recognize Bono's voice almost instantly, so Lucinda's is easily recognized.) She sparkles on the second disc of this release, recorded live in Philadelphia back in 1998. Lucinda and her band burn through a great set that includes "Joy," "Hot Blood," "Changed the Locks" and "2 Kool 2 B Forgotten."

I'm not a big fan of reissues, but this is no retread, this is the ultimate version of a fantastic album.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lucinda Rocks My (Sweet Old) World!!!, March 6, 1999
This review is from: Car Wheels on a Gravel Road (Audio CD)
A Pain-in-the-Ass perfectionist? A Diva of Streisandian proportions? Maybe. Maybe not. But guess what? I really don't give a #&%*. At least not if the final product is "Car Wheels on a Gravel Road"! Lucinda's painstaking 6 year effort pays off here; the songs are all candid & descriptive. It's almost as though we are sneaking a peek inside her diary; little by little she peels off the layers until all we're left with is her innermost feelings and she takes us along for the ride. And what a ride it is: this cd runs the gamut from complete resignation of a lost love in "Greenville" to the utter denial of lost love in "Can't let go". We hear everything from Gut-wrenching bitterness in the ironically titled "Joy" to bittersweet, sad stories; as heard in "Drunken Angel" to the tender "Still I long for your Kiss" (my personal fave)... We hear Lucinda trying real hard to convince herself she won't miss her lover in the poignant "Jackson" (at least not much, anyway). If there's an underlying theme to this cd, it's travel. Her meandering journeys throughout the South makes us feel we've been there before, even if we never stepped foot across the Mason-Dixon line. I heard someone describe her sometimes gruff vocal style as: 3 parts honey, 2 parts bourbon. That's about as accurate a way to describe her as any I can think of. This girl's the real deal and this CD is definitely the best of 98.
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Car Wheels on a Gravel Road
Car Wheels on a Gravel Road by Lucinda Williams (Audio CD - 1998)
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