So many of us have done it already; you know, make an Old 97’s “Best Of” mix for the unknowing or unconverted among our friends, family, and neighbors. Granted, with thirteen years worth of albums, singles, one-off’s, B-Sides, live boots and the like all floating around out there, making a mix like that can be a serious if satisfying project. Well this June will finally see an an official Old 97’s Best Of album for fans ranging from the uninitiated to the completist, called… and boy, I do like the title… HIT BY A TRAIN: THE BEST OF OLD 97’s. Here’s the skinny from today’s press release:


HIT BY A TRAIN Features 18 of the Old 97’s Best Songs From the Band’s First Five Studio Albums, Plus Singles, Live Tracks and More

Available June 20 From Rhino Records

LOS ANGELES – The Old 97’s debut in 1994 and its acclaimed follow-up a year later on Bloodshot Records established Rhett Miller, Murry Hammond, Ken Bethea and Philip Peeples as indie-rock’s favorite cowpunks. After signing with Elektra in 1997, the Dallas quartet recorded a trio of artistically restless albums that found Miller refining his emotional lyricism and the band tightly coiling around power pop arrangements. Rhino shakes its caboose with a collection of classic tracks from the band’s first seven years. HIT BY A TRAIN: THE BEST OF OLD 97’s is available from Rhino on June 20 at regular retail outlets and at for a suggested list price of $18.98.

The compilation gathers 18 songs released between 1994 and 2001, including songs from the band’s first five studio albums, plus singles, live performances and a soundtrack contribution. Sequenced chronologically, HIT BY A TRAIN opens with songs from the band’s indie releases including “Stoned” from Hitchhike to Rhome (the band’s 1994 debut on Big Iron), along with “Cryin’ Drunk,” “Doreen” and “Victoria,” a trio of songs subsequently released on Bloodshot Records.

A majority of the songs on the collection originally appeared on the group’s acclaimed albums with Elektra,­ Too Far to Care (1997), Fight Songs (1999) and Satellite Rides (2001). HIT BY A TRAIN includes critical and fan favorites such as “Timebomb,” “Jagged,” “Murder (Or A Heart Attack),” “Rollerskate Skinny,” “Four Leaf Clover” (with former X singer Exene Cervenkova) and “Valentine,” an acoustic track featuring Hammond taking a rare turn on lead vocals.

HIT BY A TRAIN is rounded out with “The Villain,” a B-side from 1999; a cover of the Marty Robbins classic “El Paso” that surfaced on the soundtrack for the television series King of the Hill; plus a pair of live songs “Barrier Reef” and “Nineteen”­ from the bonus disc included with special versions of Satellite Rides.

Track Listing:

1. “Stoned”
2. “Cryin’ Drunk”
3. “Doreen”
4. “Victoria”
5. “Timebomb”
6. “Niteclub”
7. “Four Leaf Clover”
8. “El Paso”
9. “Jagged”
10. “Lonely Holiday”
11. “Murder (Or A Heart Attack)”
12. “Valentine”
13. “The Villain”
14. “King Of All Of The World”
15. “Question”
16. “Rollerskate Skinny”
17. “Barrier Reef” Live
18. “Nineteen” Live

Me? I’ve got slightly mixed emotions. One one hand, this hopefully won’t mean we’ll not be getting a new 97’s album for a while longer yet. On the other, if HBAT gets a concise collection of great Old 97’s music into the hands of potential new fans, hell yes, it needs to be released today. And… well… did I mention that I like the title? Another big plus: You gotta hope the guys might hit the road to support this baby!

But how’d you like to get you hands on an amazing new track from the Old 97’s right now. Free. It’s called “Rolling Stone From Texas,” a cover of a Don Walser original, recorded live one sweltering night last summer at Greune Hall during the the sessions taped for Alive & Wired. It’s on New West SXSW eMusic Sampler 2006 with nine other great cuts, and available via just by clicking here. It kicks about a hundred miles of ass, so get it now!

Speaking of new 97’s tracks, while it’s been out for a couple of months, I somehow managed to just recently get hold of For a Decade of Sin: 11 Years of Bloodshot Records, on which the 97’s just kill with a rollicking great take on Robbie Fulks‘ “I’d Be Lonesome.” Check it out if you haven’t already. And if you’re heading to the movies this weekend, you might consider Slither, which features some of the most squirm-inducing mating and birthing scenes of any film ever made, and rolls its closing credits to the dulcet tones of the (somehow thematically related?) “New Kid,” by the Old 97’s.

One of the joys of being such a 97’s fanboy has been to get to see evidence of their music and influence spread across the globe. We already know that Yokohama mamas love them some Rhett Miller, but didja know that Bethea’s big in Bern? Bern Switzerland, that is. Apparently so, as just this week it’s come to my attention that there’s a nifty little Swiss punkabilly group called The Peacocks, who… well… reference, no… pay homage, that’s not right either… OK let’s just say they flat out steal Ken’s riff from “Timebomb” on their song “Ladies Night.” How can one tell? Well, just listen for yourself on the MySpace page of The Peacocks’ label, Sprinter Records. “Will an ASCAP representative please pick up the white courtesy phone?”

Not surprisingly, Rhett is knee deep in the news, and out on the road in support of The Believer, for which he’s getting loads of well-deserved props. No, it’s not an Old 97’s album, but I LOVE this CD. Catchy and shimmering smart pop like this just doesn’t get made much anymore, and it’s a treat. You can catch up with some of Rhett’s recent reviews and press here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here. Also, check out a nifty YouTube clip of him with The Believers here. And with all that’s going on, word was he cancelled the second of his two recent Dallas gigs because of even bigger news: Rhett’s lovely bride Erica is due any second with their second child. So hearty congratulations all around to the Millers.

ut before that happened, Rhett last week taped an edition of Last Call with Carson Daily, which airs this Friday night (April 10) on NBC. Word is he’ll play several cuts of The Believer, and you’d better believe I’ll be there.

Finally, I’ve updated the Tour Dates page with a couple of changes and recently announced dates on Rhett’s tour. The man puts on a hell of a show, sprinkled with classic and reworked versions of your 97’s favorites. So if he’s coming to your town, go!

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