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Back to the Future Now - Live At Arizona Charlie's, Las Vegas

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Album Review

"Why another live record?" asks bandleader Ray Benson in his liner notes to Asleep at the Wheel's fourth concert disc, and he has two answers, both valid. First, with hundreds of gigs per year, Asleep at the Wheel is essentially a live band, and live records reflect that. Second, Benson has cooked up a reunion performance in which original bandmembers Lucky Oceans and LeRoy Preston sit in with the current lineup, along with departed veterans Chris O'Connell, Floyd Domino, Tony Garnier, and Tim Alexander, as well as guest stars Tracy Byrd, Wade Hayes, the McGuire Sisters, and Johnny Lee Carpenter. Of course, the defining element in the group's sound remains Benson's big baritone, which he puts at the service of many of the band's hits, including "The Letter That Johnny Walker Read," "House of Blue Lights," "Miles and Miles of Texas," "Boogie Back to Texas," and "Hot Rod Lincoln." The recordings are taken from a December 1996 club date, which gives the show an unusual intimacy. Given that warmth and the survey the album provides of the band's career, Back to the Future Now makes a good primer of Asleep at the Wheel, even if the question Benson should have asked is, "Why not another live record?," to which the answer would be, "because it's redundant."


Formed: 1970 in Paw Paw, WV

Genre: Country

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Since the early '70s, Asleep at the Wheel have been the most important force in keeping the sound of Western swing alive. In reviving the freewheeling, eclectic sensibility of Western swing godfather Bob Wills, the Wheel have earned enthusiastic critical praise throughout their lengthy career; they have not only preserved classic sounds that had all but disappeared from country music, but have also been able to update the music, keeping it a living, breathing art form. Typically featuring eight to...
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Back to the Future Now - Live At Arizona Charlie's, Las Vegas, Asleep At the Wheel
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