By Barry Gilbert
Of the Post-Dispatch

The Flatlanders
"Wheels of Fortune"
New West Records

March 11, 2004

Three albums in 30 years might indicate that these guys are slackers - except that, as solo artists, they are responsible for three dozen records containing some of the finest country, rock and folk music ever to come out of Texas.

Butch Hancock, Jimmie Dale Gilmore and Joe Ely grew up in Lubbock, Texas, and their first songs appeared on an 8-track tape in 1972 - and promptly vanished for 18 years.When those early efforts finally got a proper release, by Rounder Records, on "More a Legend than a Band" in 1990, the title was funny, and true. But a "reunion" to contribute a song to Robert Redford's "The Horse Whisperer" (1998) soundtrack led to new Flatlanders albums, "Now Again" in 2002 and now, again, "Wheels of Fortune."

The CD is solid, as expected from these seasoned pros: Hancock, whose voice parks someplace between Dylan and Kristofferson; Gilmore, blessed with a classic country croon; and the rocker Ely.

Highlights include Ely's circus tale "Indian Cowboy," sung by Hancock; Hancock's title song and "Wishin' for You," sung by Gilmore; and Ely's effort on Gilmore's "Midnight Train."

Produced by Ely and recorded at his home studio, this CD proves that it's worth waiting for "Wheels" to come around, now and again.