By Greg Cahill
Hot on the heels of the vinyl release of four classic albums (including three that are being released on vinyl for the first time), the controversial Dixie Chicks have embarked on their first headlining US tour in a decade.
The two-LP, 150-gram vinyl remasters (each disc includes three or four songs per side) comprise a new set of Columbia/Legacy reissues that includes 1998’s major-label debut Wide Open Spaces, 1999’s Fly, 2002’s Home, and 2006’s Taking the Long Way—of those four titles, only Home has appeared previously on vinyl.
Arguably, the acoustic standout is Home, which earned a Grammy for Best Country Album, as well as three other Grammys. It retains all its country charm, thanks to strong songwriting, stunning vocal and instrumental performances, and unfettered acoustic-oriented production.
The album also marked a turning point for the Dixie Chicks.
It was the follow-up to their smash country-pop album Fly, which garnered a Grammy for Best Country Album, spawned a slew of hit singles, and topped the Billboard 200 pop-album chart. On Home, the Dixie Chicks—Natalie Maines, Martie Maguire, and Emily Robison—returned to their deep country roots on such fiddle-driven songs as the bluegrass-breakdown “White Trash Wedding” and the sweet lullaby “Godspeed (Sweet Dreams),” which featured a guest turn by Emmylou Harris.
The album spurred three TV specials.
The fallout was immediate and costly to their careers—the conservative establishment in Nashville riddled the group with criticism, with rowdy country star Toby Keith trading blows over what he saw as an unpatriotic stance in a time of war (Maines already had sniped at Keith’s jingoistic “Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue”).
After a nasty $4.1 million legal battle with Sony over royalties (the Dixie Chicks settled out of court), the group released just one more studio album, 2006’s Taking the Long Way, and went on hiatus, making three world tours with dates in Canada and Europe, but foregoing any stopovers in the States.
In the interim, the Chicks opened for the 2010 Eagles Summer Tour, Robison and Maguire released two country albums as Court Yard Hounds, and Maines recorded the rock-influenced Mother in 2013.
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Now, the Dixie Chicks have returned with a vengeance.
Last October, the group performed at Neil Young’s acoustic Bridge School Benefit Concert in Northern California.
This summer’s DCX MMXVI World Tour has included a recent concert at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
The group has been drawing rave reviews and showing that they’re still critical of the Nashville establishment and determined to do things their own way, even staging an animated segment that mocks the season’s political candidates before signing off with “Not Ready to Make Nice” as an encore.