Texas outfit Old 97’s were at the forefront of the second wave of alternative country bands, bursting onto the scene in 1994 with the release of debut platter “Hitchhike to Rhome.” They’ve gone on to carve out an impressive career with several terrific albums on their resume — including this year’s “Most Messed Up.”
To mark the 20th anniversary of their debut, the fine folks at Omnivore serve up an expanded reissue that is definitely worth the upgrade. The 28-track set includes the original album, plus a second disc featuring eight songs recorded during the “Hitchhike to Rhome” sessions and the band’s first four-track demo cassette.
“Hitchhike” wasn’t the best Old 97’s album (for my money, that honor goes to either 1997’s “Too Far to Care” or 2008’s “Blame It on Gravity”) but it is a record that has held up remarkably well over the past two decades. Rhett Miller & Co. shine on “St. Ignatius,” “Drowning in the Days,” “Wish the Worst,” “Doreen,” “Stoned” and “Desperate Times.” Among the bonus tunes, “Making Love With You,” “Ivy” and “Crying Drunk” are the real finds. (Jeffrey Sisk)