The Drive By Truckers
New West Records
By James Calemine
Gangstabilly counts as the first Drive By Truckers release. The Alabama natives moved to Athens, GA in 1996 and began assembling players and songs for what would become this album. Patterson Hood serves as the lead Trucker, and this band ranks as one of the most formidable out there. An old needle hitting the vinyl sound begins the CD before the stripped bare acoustic number “Wife Beater” commences. Hood’s lyrics in this song, “one night he’s drinking in jealousy and rage/knocked out two of your front teeth,” combined with John Neff’s weeping pedal steel gets the point across.
On “Demonic Possession” Hood sounds like a preacher gone wrong behind the mandolin/pedal steel fueled music. Chainsaw guitars and mandolin propel “The Tough Sell” and emerges as Hood’s first talking-blues song. “The Living Bubba” is dedicated to the late Atlanta musician Dean Smalley. “Late For Church”, a banjo-laced back porch gospel song indicates the depth of this group from Alabama via Athens, Georgia..
“Panties In Your Purse”, a Mike Cooley song, ranks as one of this collection’s strongest tunes. The second half of the CD begins with the needle on the vinyl sound, and then the song “Why Henry Drinks” kicks in. This song, a brutal account of an alcoholic, epitomizes the Truckers’ spirit…complete with slashing Cooley guitar licks. “18 Wheels of Love” contains the unforgettable lyric, “Mama ran off with a Trucker…Peterbuilt,” and a country blues guitar progression. “Steve McQueen” serves as another cool anthem dedicated to the actor.
“Buttholeville”, another Trucker gem, contains a mean-assed sentiment with wicked guitars along with their sneering humor. “Sandwiches For The Road,” a humble acoustic number, emits an un-nerving courage against what seems to be hopeless odds that was written for the late great Eddie Hinton.
The Drive By Truckers’ glorious journey begins here.