The Fine Print ( A Collection Of Oddities And Rarities 2003-2008)
The Drive By Truckers
New West Records
By James Calemine
These 12 unreleased and rare Drive By Truckers songs were culled mostly from the band’s The Dirty South sessions, which include two departed Jason Isbell songs. Eight original songs, and four cover tunes comprise this collection. There’s no doubt The Drive By Truckers rank as one of the strongest, most influential bands in existence right now. These ‘orphan’ songs would make up an album of hits for any other band with less talent. These songs the group didn’t feel were strong enough to make an album now represent a lost era…but it sure does make for great listening.
“George Jones Talkin’ Cell Phone Blues” opens the CD with a side winding John Neff pedal steel luring the band down the country path. This sly song tells the story of a venerable tale of country great George Jones making a late run for another bottle. A more formidable band could not render a cover of Tom Petty’s Southern Accents song—“Rebels”. Patterson Hood’s voice sounds a little more convincing than Petty’s on this number.
Mike Cooley’s “Uncle Frank” serves as an alternate take from The Truckers' Pizza Deliverance CD. Isbell’s “TVA” preserves a glorious era in the band’s history when their triple-songwriting attack always left them with a plethora of material to choose from. Another version of “Goode’s Field Road” turned up on The Truckers latest CD, Brighter Than Creation’s Dark, in a swampier incarnation.
“The Great Car Dealer” emerges as a murky tune, and certainly carries the spook. No one writes about a life of crime better than The Truckers. “Mama Bake A Pie (Daddy Kill A Chicken)” carries a wry humor the Truckers can always pull off that always coincides with the song’s musical mood. “When The Well Runs Dry” retains classic country twangs...
“Mrs. Claus Kimono”, a sinister tune, contends as this collection’s most interesting track regarding a dark avenue with Christmas tradition. Hood’s lyrical sentiment fits the late-night junkie musical landscape which evokes the ghost of Howlin’ Wolf: (“…loading up the toy sack with Heroin and crack/Send Santa off to Georgia/He ain’t never comin’ back”…)
The Truckers render Warren Zevon’s “Play It All Night” and make it their own. An acoustic classic, “The Little Pony And The Great Big Horse”, stands as a Cooley classic, which seem a little short on this compilation. The cover of Bob Dylan’s “Like A Rolling Stone” alone is the worth the price of this CD. Each member of the band takes a turn singing a verse, and one can’t be too far out of bounds to think this version would bring a grin to ol’ Bob’s face—outstanding.
The Fine Print (A Collection Of Oddities And Rarities 2003-2008) serves as a eternal snapshot of The Drive By Truckers' disgarded material during a musical era for them, which stands as absolutely essential to anyone interested in the band.