Our last Chain Gang offering saw Viv Fish serve up a tasty little clip of Andrew Combs performing ‘Strange Bird’ from his 2015 ‘All These Dreams’ album. Although now a resident of Nashville, Combs originally hails from the city of Dallas, which eases us seamlessly into this week’s link to Jimmie Dale Gilmore’s classic song of the same name.
‘Dallas’ was written and first recorded in 1972 by the Flatlanders and released as a single under the name Jimmie Dale and The Flatlanders. The record was a flop and copies are as rare as the proverbial rocking horse shit, and likely to set you back serious dollar should you wish to acquire one. The single was actually released in anticipation of the Flatlanders album release, but this was only ever given a limited release in 1973 on 8-track only. For those too young to remember, these were the rather bulky forerunner of the cassette. The last one to sell on Discogs in June this year went for in excess of £200. The album was reissued on vinyl by Charly in 1980, a decent copy of which would set you back a more manageable £25. That release was in part triggered by the solo success of ex-Flatlanders Joe Ely and ‘Dallas’ writer Jimmie Dale Gilmore. Both later included ‘Dallas’ on solo releases, Ely in 1981 on his ‘Musta Notta Got a Lotta’ album and Gilmore on his self-titled 1989 album.
The song has become a live staple of both artists’ live sets and has been covered by a number of other artists. The version featured here comes from the often excellent MTV Unplugged series, although there were some stinkers too. John Peel famously got himself into a spot of bother with the BBC when reading out the album chart and upon reaching ‘Eric Clapton Unplugged’ adding “he probably should be”. However, no such action needed here as Natalie Merchant is joined by David Byrne, as her band, 10,000 Maniacs, deliver a rather jaunty version of the song.
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