Old 97's: Rhett Miller (vocals, guitar); Murry Hammond (vocals, banjo, bass); Ken Bethea (guitar); Philip Peeples (drums).
Additional personnel: Don Walser (vocals); Jon Langford, Chuck Uchida (guitar).
Recorded at Attica, Chicago, Illinois.
Composers: Ken Bethea; Murry Hammond; Philip Peeples; Rhett Miller.
Personnel: Rhett Miller (vocals, guitar); Murry Hammond (vocals, banjo); Ken Bethea (guitar).
Recording information: Attica, Chicago IL.
Photographer: Markus Greiner.
On their second album, Texas alt-country rockers the Old 97's consolidated their strengths while improving on the slight weaknesses of their homemade 1994 debut, HIGHWAY TO RHOME. A rollicking remake of that album's standout, "Doreen," shows a band with considerably more road experience under their collective belts: the vocal interplay between lead singer Rhett Miller and bassist Murry Hammond feels far more natural, with Hammond's Bob Wills-like shouts and interjections sounding much less forced, and the songs are both authentically twangy and played with a bit of punkish urgency. The key to the album is found in the trio of covers, which neatly triangulate the band's influences: a heartfelt version of the pre-rock Latin-pop classic "You Belong To My Heart," Bill Monroe's bluegrass blast "My Sweet Blue-Eyed Darlin'," and Jon Langford's "Over the Cliff" sound perfectly natural next to one another, and they all sound like originals. Later albums by the Old 97's would increase the pop and rock influences, but WRECK YOUR LIFE is the band at their most authentically alt-country.