Random Five: Drive-By Truckers September 16, 2010Posted by Matt in Random Five.
Tags: best songs, Brighter Than Creation's Dark, concert, Decoration Day, drive-by truckers, Memphis, Southern Rock Opera, The Big To-Do, The Dirty South
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It’s no secret to anyone who has been reading the various iterations of this blog over the past 5 years that I’m a huge fan of the Drive-By Truckers, and have been for the better part of a decade. I’ve long praised their dark tales of life in the American South, while collecting all of their recordings and seeing them perform live five times or so. I had a chance to catch them earlier this year at the Beale Street Music Festival, which was fine, but due to time constraints, it was a bit more condensed than other times – particularly when compared to the incredible 3.5 hour monstrosity I was able to witness a few years ago. Well, tomorrow night I’ll have the opportunity to see them again on their latest trip through Memphis and I must say that I’m already near bursting with excitement. Their live shows are so energetic and insane, so loud and jarring that they blow nearly everyone else completely away. When you have the chance, make sure you go see them.
That being the case, I thought I would give you my five favorite DBT albums today. Let me know what you think.
5. Brighter Than Creation’s Dark
2008’s Brighter is probably the most country music-oriented album in their catalog, with some tunes (“Lisa’s Birthday”) displaying a full blast of that old school country style. This one also marks, for better or worse, the first album with Shonna Tucker, the replacement for the great Jason Isbell, on bass.
4. The Big To-Do
DBT’s most recent release takes a step back into the more hard-edged southern rock stylings of their earlier albums, a genre that seems to work best for them. With the exception of a few songs written by Shonna that I don’t really care for, it is a very good album, particularly on the heavy riff of “Drag the Lake Charlie” and Patterson Hood’s “The Fourth Night of My Drinking.” This was also their highest charting album to date, coming in at #22 on the US charts.
3. Decoration Day
This 2003 release was the first DBT album I bought and it was a great one to start with, it’s overriding themes of family and death fitting perfectly into the canon. Though the rocking “Sinkhole” is still a concert favorite, Jason Isbell is the real hero on this album, contributing perhaps two of their best songs, “Outfit” and “Decoration Day.”
2. The Dirty South
The follow-up to Decoration Day showed the Truckers delving even farther into the dark nature of life in the South, with more songs about death, family, and lovelorn tragedies. “Puttin’ People on the Moon” is a particularly damning take on NASA’s presence in Huntsville, Alabama, and it’s effect on the people of the region and “Where the Devil Don’t Say” is an excellent concert rocker, but again it is Isbell’s heartsick album closer “God**** Lonely Love” that rules this one.
1. Southern Rock Opera
There are few, if any, albums in the history of Southern Rock that encapsulate life in Dixie the way this one does. When Hood sings of the “duality of the Southern Thing” it makes sense, the good and bad of the South holding separate portions on the scales of life. This album, though, belongs to lead guitarist and co-founder (along with Hood) Mike Cooley, who contributes my all-time favorite DBT song, “Zip City.” It’s really a great album, one of my favorites of the entire decade and I would strongly urge all of you to check it out.
In case you don’t want to buy full albums, I have also decided to give you a bonus with today’s random five: A must-have DBT playlist of 20 songs that you should hear given in album order.
18 Wheels of Love (from Gangstabilly)
Why Henry Drinks (from Gangstabilly)
The Company I Keep (from Pizza Deliverance)
Love Like This (from Pizza Deliverance)
The Southern Thing (from Southern Rock Opera)
Zip City (from Southern Rock Opera)
Let There Be Rock (from Southern Rock Opera)
Guitar Man Upstairs (from Southern Rock Opera)
The Deeper In (from Decoration Day)
Sink Hole (from Decoration Day)
Outfit (from Decoration Day)
Where the Devil Don’t Stay (from The Dirty South)
Puttin’ People on the Moon (from The Dirty South)
God**** Lonely Love (from The Dirty South)
Aftermath USA (from A Blessing and a Curse)
The Righteous Path (from Brighter than Creation’s Dark)
A Ghost to Most (from Brighter than Creation’s Dark)
The Fourth Night of My Drinking (from The Big To-Do)
Drag the Lake Charlie (from The Big To-Do)
Birthday Boy (from The Big To-Do)