Forming in 1969, Asleep at the Wheel was one of the first bands (along with Commander Cody & His Lost Planet Airmen) of the long-haired hippie generation to look back to American roots music traditions like Western swing and boogie-woogie, but the world wasn't quite ready when they released their 1973 debut on United Artists. The following year, they switched over to Epic for their self-titled sophomore release, and began to really make a name for themselves. Their twanged-up version of the old Louis Jordan R&B tune "Choo Choo Ch'Boogie" became a minor country hit, giving the Wheel their first-ever chart placement, and making country fans start to stand up and take notice of these scruffy but sincere traditionalists. Over the years, the band has become best known for its Western swing revivalism, and that time-honored blend of country and jazz is undoubtedly prominent here, from a Nashville-ized take on Count Basie's "Jumpin' at the Woodside" to Cindy Walker's "Miss Molly" and Hank Penny's "Blood-Shot Eyes," but that's not the end of the story. The multitude of styles on the Wheel's second album is indicative of the path they would follow throughout their long career; besides Western swing there are straight-up ballads in the classic country style like "Our Names Aren't Even Mentioned (Together Anymore)" and "Last Letter," as well as honky tonk tunes like "Dead Man" and a countrified version of Fats Domino's "I'm Gonna Be a Wheel Someday." After this album, Epic wound up dropping the band, doubting their commercial potential, but time has obviously shown how far off the mark the label was in that assessment.
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AllMusic Review by James Allen