Drive By Truckers – The Dirty South

The Dirty South

I confess, these good ol’ boys have become one of my favorite rock and roll bands. There double-disc opus, Southern Rock Opera , was one of my favorite records from the past couple of years. It’s a tribute, in effect, to Lynyrd Skynyrd, and parts of the South. With the band’s latest, the South rises again. But they aren’t a bunch of simple, beer-swilling, boogie rockers. Instead, the songs are thoughtful and, for the most part, loud, ruminations on that part of the country and what it means to them.

There are several subjects that their records have always liked to deal with. Weather is strong influence. “Tornadoes” is a slow rocker with dreamy, ethereal guitars that fit the story. “The Day John Henry Died” is a unique take on the Industrial Revolution set to a rollicking country-rock feel. “Puttin’ People on the Moon” makes a social statement, but makes it very personal. Wild guitars bring the point home. Cars make an appearance, metaphorically and physically. “Carl Perkins’ Cadillac” has rambling 12-string and uses the car as a metaphor for the early music business. “Daddy’s Cup” is gearhead heaven (car, not guitar) about a kid who inherits his father’s love of racing cars. Sheriff Buford Pusser also makes a couple of appearances. Just one thing, though. If you think of him as a hero, you’ll have a bit of an argument from the Truckers. It would have been nice if participants in this year’s Presidential race had acted like the family members in the marvelous “The Sands of Iwo Jima.” Truth meets hyperbole.

Sound-wise, the band is sometimes loud, sometimes subtle, but always interesting. Flying Vs meet acoustic guitars, and both come out winners. Vocally, the singers are unique, and squeeze every ounce out of brilliant lyrics.

This article originally appeared in VG‘s Feb. ’05 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.

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