Craig Havighurst
January 26, 2004 AT 05:00 AM EST

Some 30 years ago, Butch Hancock, Joe Ely, and Jimmie Dale Gilmore tried to start a band but launched three solo careers instead. Finally, the Texas songwriting aces got together a couple of years ago, to great acclaim. Here’s further acclaim: Wheels of Fortune is near perfection, starting with Hancock’s poignant but nutty ”Baby Do You Love Me Still.” With jarringly good songs from three different pens, this is country at its elemental best, equal parts whimsy, passion, and revelation.

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