Uncle Walt's Band, a legendary Austin, Texas-based trio from the '70s and '80s teaming influential singer-songwriter Walter Hyatt with prolific sideman Champ Hood and future "Thinkin' Problem" singer David Ball, influenced the future sound of country music and Americana with such tracks as the live version of "Outside Looking Out" included on the new reissue of 1980 album An American in Texas, out Nov. 1 via Omnivore Recordings.
"Outside Looking Out," premiered today by Wide Open Country, offers a taste of a distinctly Texas-sounding band's intertwining picking skills and the jaw-dropping lyricism that captivated Austin's live music scene.
"A great song written by Walter," Ball tells Wide Open Country via email. "Full of cool tones! It's such a difficult song, that if you don't play it often, it's hard to get it back. I'm glad we had this solid performance. It's dazzling!"
For the uninitiated, Uncle Walt's Band released its first album, Blame It on the Bossa Nova, in 1974 and added to its legacy with An American in Texas before all three members parted ways to pursue solo careers. Those recordings, plus additional cuts included on Omnivore's Anthology: Those Boys From Carolina, They Sure Enough Could Sing, wowed a relatively small yet immensely loyal group of future Lone Star State outsiders and Nashville stars.
"It's been said that The Velvet Underground only sold 2,000 of their first record, but everybody that bought one started a band," says Bruce Robison. "Some really influential bands become super famous and some don't. At an Uncle Walt's Band show in the '70s in Austin, you might have seen Gary P. Nunn, Shawn Colvin, Marcia Ball, Lyle Lovett or Willis Alan Ramsey digging on the boys from Spartanburg."
Of the three South Carolina natives in Uncle Walt's Band, only Ball gets his proverbial flowers while he's living from reissued music. Hyatt died in the crash of ValuJet Flight 592 on May 11, 1996, and Hood passed away in 2001 following a battle with cancer.
The LP, CD and digital reissue of An American In Texas features all 12 album cuts plus eight songs from the cassette-only release Six • Twenty Six • Seventy Nine and five bonus tracks not featured on Sugar Hill's 1991 reissue An American in Texas Revisited.