Friday, January 25, 2008

All hail the Drive-By Truckers: A video tribute

As I too rapidly get older, I've found it's much easier to keep up with movies than it is music, though I love them both. I couldn't tell you what's hip on the radio now if you put a gun to my head, and I'm really not sure I would want to.

But one thing I've managed to stay sure of for the past five years or so is that the Drive-By Truckers just kick royal ass every single time they manage to release an album, as they did again this week with the seriously satisfying "Brighter than Creation's Dark."

When I first found them (or more correctly, my brother did and demanded that I catch up), they had put together a 2-CD "Southern Rock Opera" that sort of works as a tribute to Lynyrd Skynyrd (and really, why not?). Since then my favorite Truckers' album (and I'm sure many other people's too) has been "Decoration Day," and I've managed to see them live 5-10 times now, the best times being at their home at the fabulous 40 Watt Club, surrounded by adoring kids and standing in about an inch of standing liquid that I hope was mostly beer.

So, rather than talk about any of the craptastic movies opening wide this week (I love Diane Lane to death, but I'm not gonna watch yet another movie about a guy who tries to kill people on the Internet), here's a video tribute to what I seriously think you can call the greatest rock band in the world (Rolling Stones be damned, at this point.)

Keep your drawers on, girl, it ain't worth the fight
The Cooley track "Zip City" is easily my favorite Drive-By Truckers song, and, in spite of its rather negative portrayal of the plight of teen girls in the South, I've been surprised by just how many women really like it too.

"Bon Scott singing Let There Be Rock"
If you ever have the pleasure of seeing "Let There Be Rock" performed live, be careful not to look too closely at the people all around you, because I can assure that that many white kids in one place, almost all giving the hook' em horns sign and bobbing their heads in unison, can indeed be more than a little frightening. That said, this would have to be the Truckers' signature song, and I still love it every time I hear it.

"Some people stop living long before they die"
The audio's a little shoddy on this performance of "The Living Bubba," which purports to be from Jason Isbell's last show with the band before he chose the wrong solo path and is now fading into oblivion. A tribute to Gregory Dean Smalley, an Atlanta musician who died of AIDS, it's a sweet song that just happens to rock balls too.

"American boys hate to lose"
The Truckers' new CD, "Brighter than Creation's Dark," has several good songs about the Iraq war, including Patterson Hood's searing "The Man I Shot," but their greatest war song, and frankly one of the best I've ever heard, is "Dress Blues." This clip has been viewed more than 34,000 times at Youtube, so hopefully Jason Isbell's song about a fallen friend has touched more than a few people.

And there you have it. Hopefully everyone's Friday goes just a little bit better with a solid dose of rock. Peace out.


Erik Loomis said...

How is Isbell fading into oblivion? When I saw him this summer the show was pretty packed. He put out a very solid album and he tours all the time. I don't know that he'll ever again sell the same number of albums, but he also didn't choose a solo career. My understanding is that he was basically fired.

Reel Fanatic said...

I didn't know he was fired, Erik, and I haven't had the pleasure of seeing him live, but I have to say I was thoroughly underwhelmed by "Sirens of the Ditch" ... Except for "Dress Blues," which I obviously love, and a couple of other standouts, it just sounded like really generic pop to me

J. Marquis said...

Yeah, I have to agree on the Isbell cd. Nothing much to write home about.

J. Marquis said...

RF- I don't know if you saw this article but I thought it was interesting that Patterson Hood's favorite album is Something/Anything by Todd Rundgren. That's not a connection I would have ever made.

Reel Fanatic said...

Thanks for the heads up, Mr. Marquis ... That's not one I would have thought of either, but I do love that Rundgren album in a rainy Sunday afternoon kind of way

Erik Loomis said...

I think the Isbell album is highly underrated. It's certainly not a Truckers album--it's just very different. He produced a more laid back album. But the best songs are among his very best. I certainly think it is as good as a solo album as Hood or Cooley would be. It's a lot harder to have 14 songs than 5 or 7 like a group album.

Chicago Promenade, The Devil is My Running Mate, Brand New Kind of Actress--all very strong songs, as well as Dress Blues of course.

J. Marquis said...

Erik- you're definitely right, it's tough to put out a solo album that's gonna be strong all the way through.

Reel Fanatic said...

I should maybe give it another listen, Erik, cause maybe you're right that I'm not giving it enough credit .. I do have a cassette of a Patterson Hood solo CD that I can't even remember the name of right now because I just stopped listening to it, so you're definitely right about solo projects being tougher to tackle

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