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The Grand Theatre Volume One

4.1 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Audio CD, October 12, 2010
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

The four Texans return with an explosive new album that captures the sound their fans treasure while excitingly veering their songwriting and production into new areas. The result is the aurally thrilling The Grand Theatre Volume One. Written primarily by frontman Rhett Miller while on tour in the UK, Miller offers up his wry character studies and charming twists on phrases. The 97 s sound is expertly rounded out by band members: Murry Hammond, Ken Bethea and Philip Peeples. Together as a band they ve delivered an album that will rock America from coast to coast.

Review

master-class rock & roll songwriters --Rolling Stone
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (October 12, 2010)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: New West Records
  • ASIN: B003YMSV84
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #134,050 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Deanokat TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 12, 2010
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I've been a huge Old 97's fan for years, but I confess that I've been a bit disappointed with their last few albums. Nevertheless, I was still eagerly awaiting the release of The Grand Theatre, Volume One. I'm happy to say, after a few listens, I think this might be the band's best effort since 2001's Satellite Rides.

Recorded live without an audience at Dallas's Sons of Hermann Hall, this album rocks in a Too Far To Care-ish kind of way. It features catchy melodies, great lyrics and vocals from frontman Rhett Miller, strong harmonies, scorching guitar work from Ken Bethea, and the usual solid support from bassist Murry Hammond and drummer Philip Peeples.

Standout tracks are "The Grand Theatre," "The Dance Class," "Please Hold On While the Train Is Moving," and--my favorite--the somewhat haunting "Let the Whiskey Take the Reins," which offers up a very cool hushed vocal from Rhett and nice play-along guitar licks from Ken. The record's first single, "Every Night Is Friday Night (Without You)" is an enthusiastic rocker, while Murry's two songs--"You Smoke Too Much" and "You Were Born to Be in a Battle"--are both top-notch. Finally, Bob Dylan fans take note: "Champaign, Illinois" is actually Dylan's "Desolation Row," with new Rhett Miller-penned (and Bob Dylan-approved) lyrics.

It's nice to see the Old 97's back at the top of their game. I'm giving this album 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5. I can't wait for the release of The Grand Theatre, Volume Two next spring!
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Format: Audio CD
This is the album Old 97's purists have been waiting for. It is their seventh studio album, coming 16 years after their first, and it may just be one of the best. It is a delightful combination of their original Alt Country twang and pop-rock tendencies. It reminds me of, and in my opinion is their best album since, 1997s Too Far To Care, which although having hints of pop is more closely resembles the sound of their first two albums, Hitchhike To Rhome (1994) and Wreck Your Life (1995). Once again Rhett Miller and Murray Hammond have given us great vocal performances, especially on Rhett's "Let The Whiskey Take The Reins" and Murry's Cash-esque "You Were Born To Be in Battle." Once again both men exhibit the same clever lyrical stylings we are used to. Although I can't help but feel a slight emptiness in the lyrics compared to Wreck Your Life's (the same feeling I've had for most of their albums since Satellite Rides. Drag It Up is the exception.) They seem to lack the pain, anger and pure emotion that made their early work great, but its an acceptable mellowing out. They battled against the angst of their twenties, matured, and settled down and this album reflects this.

The highlight of the album is "A State of Texas." With this track the band illustrates they have not lost their roots. It is pure Old 97's and harkens back once again and most evidently to the golden age of the Old 97's, their first three albums. This could be the beginning of another. "Champaign, IL" is also one of this album's highlights. A reworking of Bob Dylan's "Desolation Row," it has a slightly pop-ier and up-beat tempo than "A State of Texas.
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Format: MP3 Music
I was one of the fortunate to catch them live last night at Borders here in Dallas for the release of The Grand Theatre Volume One. The show was great, their energy and cohesion was as amazing as it always is, and they were still down-to-earth enough to do a meet-and-greet and signing of the new CD after the show. Got to shake hands with all of them and chit-chat a little. A perfect "Old 97's night"!

The new release is a work of art. The members all shine individually at what they do. And of course collectively - they simply excel. The songwriting is clever and as powerful as ever. Rhett and Murry both do an amazing job on the vocals. Having an album where they both sing lead on their respective songs, always feels like a two-for-one deal. And of course the 97's wouldn't be the 97's without Ken and Philip doing what they do so well.

I will admit that their previous album "Blame it on Gravity", was not one of my favorites. There are without a doubt some great songs on it, but it has never been one of those CDs that I could listen to all the way through. "The Grand Theatre Volume One" fixes all that. Get the CD, put it in your player, and be prepared to be hooked from the first song to the last.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I think this is the best Old 97s album since Satellite Rides. The band sounds more energized than they have in years. There's fun, tuneful stuff here, though the lyrics are under par. The song about Texas smacks of jingle-ism, but I first saw them perform it at an event presented by the state tourism board. Ah well, I guess there are kids to put through school now.
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Format: Audio CD
It's a truism by now that there is far more to creating a truly great album than simply a combination of talent, good ideas and energy. "The Magic" has to be there as well - a certain confluence of factors that are nearly impossible to define. Few bands really get there, even though they might churn out some great singles. The Old 97s have two of these in my opinion - the straight-through classic Too Far To Care and its successor, the somewhat poppier Fight Songs. Too Far To Care was truly breathtaking and completely changed the way I looked at pop music. It captured very well how it felt to be in my mid-20s still trying to find my way and making my share of mistakes throughout the journey. I can't tell you how many times I have heard that disc front-to-back, and to this day hearing it brings me right back to those times with a bang.

Although nothing that this band has produced since those albums has been quite the same (what could be, however?) I connected pretty deeply with 2004's Drag It Up. This one was a bit of a "grower," which started making more and more sense as I developed from an aimless mid-20-something into a settled adult with a career and more stable relationships. The album is rich in thoughtful ballads that capture both the pathos and calmness that come with facing the impending onset of early middle age. Lead singer Rhett Miller's solo career has also displayed him as a thoughtful, mature songwriter with a unique perspective on the world, and his latest self-titled release has had the same impact on me as Drag It Up.

Given all of this history and growth, the new record just doesn't hang together quite as well for me as some of their past work (including Rhett's solo career). It's not that the album is bad, in fact it's a very fun listen.
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