After the masterpiece that is "A Southern Rock Opera" (ASRO) I couldn't wait to hear this album when I saw it was to be released. Initially I was surprised at how "country" the sound was but this soon passed. The Drive By Truckers write stories and on this album their storytelling comes to the fore even more than it did on ASRO. the stories are more personal and, if anything, the singing and playing are more impassioned. The stories are often unpleasant involving incest ("The Deeper In"), murder ("Sinkhole") and suicide ("Do It Yourself" and "When the Pin Hits the Shelf") showing the dark side of life in the southern US. They are, however, told with compassion and some of the guitar playing and other instrumental parts are really beautiful. Undoubtedly this is the same group as recorded ASRO but here they show more breadth in their storytelling and music.
on 30 September 2005
Like many other reviewers I was drawn into the Drive-By Truckers by "Goddamn Lonely Love" on a free CD with Uncut magazine, went out and bought The Dirty South, then started working my way backwards through their albums, this being the one before The Dirty South.
It is a little mellower than it's follow-up but the lyrical content and excellent musicianship are easily on an equal and those in search of all-out rockers or gentle ballads will find what they are looking for coupled with all three songwriters' talent for telling stories.
Highlights include "Outfit" - a song from a father to a son with some classic lines (I used to go round in a Mustang/A 302 Mach 1 in green/Me and your momma made you on the back-seat/And I sold it to buy her a ring), "Marry Me", "Heathens", "Hell, No I Ain't Happy", the genuinely moving lost-love/heartbreak song "Sounds Better In The Song" (I might as well have slipped that ring on your finger from a window of a van/As it drove away), "When the Pin Hits The Shell" and the wonderful title track, telling the outcome and bitterness associated with two feuding families.
I would even go so far to say that this is a better album than the Dirty South - certainly easier to get into - and readers of my review on that record will know how highly I rate it.
My only complaint is that not enough people have heard of this band. They deserve to be massive. I recently saw them live in Manchester, playing the smallest of the Academy's three venues and even though the place was packed, everybody I know who I have told about them always responds with "who?" Mind you, perhaps some things are best kept to yourself and then you can keep yourself satisfied in the knowledge that you're onto something special.
If you know what I mean.
Anyway - buy this album!
Until I came across this album in a charity shop recently I had never heard of Drive-By-Truckers before but having played this a couple of times now I'm glad I was drawn into buying it for 50p!
I'm a big Cheap Trick fan and parts of this record remind me of a cross between CT and ZZ Top. This said, DBT have a lot of hidden depths to their songs and reading the lyric sheet on the second run through of this album really opened my eyes to what great lyricists these boys are. Poignant, gritty, honest and occasionally hard hitting the songs on this album are always performed with passion and I love the way listening to this makes me feel as if I'm in a bar off an American highway not far from the swamp.
Best track (at the moment) is I think 'Your Daddy Hates Me' because the sorrow and regret really comes through in both the odd way the song is sung and the awesome guitar playing at the end. A lot of the album is pretty dark lyrically and 'Do It Yourself' is another song that stands out to me - especially because I lost a good friend to suicide myself. 'Marry Me' and 'MY Sweet Annette' are also thought provoking story songs and I LOVE the tender imagery of the 'live sounding', stripped down acoustic closer 'Loaded Gun In The Closet' - now there is a song a good many celebrities could do with hearing!
'Decoration Day' is not perhaps an instant record but the more you play it the more you know your going to play it and an album like that is worth its weight in gold because its with you for the 'long haul'. If you like southern rock, blues, or rock n' roll with a dash of bluegrass and country this albums for you.
on 2 June 2005
I discovered the Truckers through a free CD in a monthly music mag the song was Goddam lonely love from The Dirty South CD which highlighted the honey and sand voice of Patterson Hood ( i think ) anyway i bought the CD, loved it and went on to buy the Southern Rock Opera and Decoration Day. Now, Decoration Day is a little different in that there is more finesse to the playing of the band in certain songs like Outfit, Pin hits the shell, and Decoration day, where you can really pick out the individual instruments giving the whole CD a more varied and even interesting quality. The storys are as good as ever keeping you so interested it sometimes stops you hearing the music, with subjects ranging from murder (sink hole ), lost love ( Sweet Annette) and family pride ( Outfit )the CD as a whole is totally absorbing. Dont be worried about this beaing a totally laid back affair as there are the usuall great rockers here as well ( Marry me) ( Hell no i aint happy ) ( Sink Hole ) and the different styles here will appeal to fans of Springstein,Dylan,Eagles, Ryan Adams, and all Southern Rock. So if you like your music to take you away from your everyday life and transport you to the places you may never get to, then sit back in your car, house, or bath and go down south y,all ( GREAT )
on 23 June 2010
The breadth of this collection is absolutely awesome. There are 14 songs, but how all-encompassing the album is in subject range, rather than how many songs there are is the point. Three brilliant songwriters with all cylinders firing, guitars chiming and raging: it's a third brilliant album in a row from the band. It puts them a step ahead of The Hold Steady as the great band of 2000-2010. Their latest, The Big To-Do is somewhat scaled-down but still contains the wit, insight and understanding that is the mark of Decoration Day.
This one of those albums that creeps up on you and catches you unawares. On the first listening you think, well, that was all right. But pretty soon you're thinking it's as good as anything DBT have done. And on each subsequent listening there's something new, something you didn't notice before because there's so much other stuff going on.
That's the way it went down for me, anyway.
Stylistically DBT never deliver the same package twice running. Take two adjacent songs - Marry Me and My Sweet Annette. Both matrimonially themed, the former could have been written by The Faces and performed by The Stones. It sounds like something omitted from Forty Licks, the Stones' greatest hits package, but only because in a moment of supreme negligence they'd forgotten to release it in the first place. This is a rock'n'roll song par excellence; 5:39 of raucous marriage proposal.
My Sweet Annette is a totally different proposal; a sad tale of a jilted bride, delivered at a much more measured pace. Musically this catapults us way back to the left side of the slash in country/rock, with a generous helping of weeping steel guitar and fiddle. The story is a simple one, like, "Oh damn, I just slept with the maid of honour so that's the wedding down the tubes," but even more pathos-laden for the simplicity. And like many country songs it hankers after a more innocent age - the setting is 1933 - when walking the maid of honour home would normally comprise of that and nothing more, not even in our imagination.
The collection opens with a real challenge. It's a story of broken homes, of true love, and of incest. We all know incest is wrong, right? Well, actually, after you've listened to this you will find your values system severely challenged. Your heart and your head will be at war not only with each other but with themselves. And for that, composer Patterson Hood should be congratulated for pointing out that in this matter, as in so many things in life, there's more than just right and wrong. And even if incest is wrong, can you convince yourself that the brother and sister in this song should be imprisoned for it? Heavy stuff, and we're still only 3:15 into the CD! And incidentally, again the music is spot on, a lilting country waltz.
Later on, Careless is pure punk. Delivered at breakneck speed, which explains why at 2:07 this is the shortest track in the collection.
And what are we to make of Hell No, I Ain't Happy? Is this the logical next step Status Quo never made? Because this is the Quo with added Sophistication. I'm not kidding here! The great thing about Quo was their acceptance of what they were - simple rockers. The closest they ever came to Sophistication was a cover of The Doors' Roadhouse Blues, which in turn was one of The Doors' most basic!
The song takes what sounds like a Quo riff and breaks it up. Not something Rossi's boys would have done. They were rock's marines: full frontal attack. But DBT work the flanks too, with guitar breaks occasionally interrupting the riff.
The all-acoustic Sounds Better in a Song is notable for its sense of intense disappointment and some of the best lyrics on the CD, as for example in the lines, "I might as well of slipped that ring on your finger from the window of a van as it drove away."
Jason Isbell's title track, about a feud between two families, the Hills and the Lawsons, is a chilling tale of mindless hatred ("I never knew how it all got started") and slaughter, told from the point of view of the Lawsons. Mostly a bluesy, guitar-backed waltz, there is a fake ending followed by a much angrier exchange of electric guitars which is like a catharsis, the band unloading on their instruments and getting the anger out of their system.
The set closes with Loaded Gun in the Closet, as offbeat a love song as you'll hear. Essentially it celebrates a wife who is content packing hubbie off to work, waiting for him to come home, cooking him dinner and listening to his gripes about work. The backing is very spare, a couple of acoustic guitars and a slide, and Mike Cooley's voice echoes slightly, suggesting the emptiness, maybe. DBT deliver no specific judgement on this lifestyle, nor the presence of the eponymous gun or its mate in the dresser drawer.
As with other Truckers releases, this one comes thoughtfully packaged, with the now-trade-mark zombie-inhabited graphics and all the lyrics to give us a fighting chance of working out what the songs are about. And throughout the 15 tracks, listen as you might, you don't hear DBT grind a gear.