on 17 May 2006
'The Dirty South', if Im honest, is the only album by Drive By Truckers that Ive heard and actually liked. Well, loved. Adored. And also, been very much obsessed with. There is quite a raw and untouched element about the entire collection of songs making them feel covered in dirt, dust, and drenched in Whiskey. Personally I would rate this above 'Southern Rock Opera' as a first buy. There is something immediately accessible about the songs on this album which demand a listen and 'The Dirty South' has a far more distinctive flavour. They certainly dont shy away from making the drums as loud and as hard as possible - a quality I significantly appreciate.
The highlights of the album have been mentioned in previous reviews but Ill re iterate. 'Tornadoes' is a relatively gorgeous slow-paced mellow song but gets your head nodding. Clearly, its about the day the tornado's came. 'Sands of Iwo Jima' is the album's knockout track. Just a beautiful song well written, well performed, and awesomely sung. A throaty high pitched southern twang over some country-guitar goodness. Other superb tracks include 'Puttin people on the moon', 'Danko/Manuel', 'The Buford Stick', 'The Boys From Alabama' and 'Never Gonna Change'. Another absolute must-hear on the album however is 'Cottonseed' - a song that contains the lyrics to perhaps my favourite dark chorus of all time.
"I used to have a wad of hundred dollar bills in the back pocket of my suit/I had a 45 underneath my coat and another one in my boot/I drove a big old cadillac, bought a new one anytime I pleased/And I put more law men in the ground than Alabama put cottonseed"
Genius. As I write this, there are some tracks on the album that Im not over-keen on. This, however, is something that will almost certainly change with time. They simply require more listening effort. All in all, if you like rock, or country, or hip-hop, then listen to this album. There is a song on it certain to drive you a little wild. Amazon are selling this for £6.67 secondhand. For as little as £6.00, The Drive By Truckers really do deserve your ears. Whoever you are.
Like a number of people, it seems, I'm slowly buying up the DBT opus in reverse, starting with A Blessing and a Curse, and The Dirty South second. This album is an assembly of 14 outstanding songs addressing a wide variety of subjects and characters, including the effects of tornadoes, the career of Carl Perkins, credit card debt (well, it gets a mention), and death, love, and the death of love.
In total, The Dirty South is possibly even better than A Blessing and A Curse, mainly because I found it more consistent. And although I've seen it suggested that this music is rock, to this fusionista's ears we're mostly still to the left of the slash in country/rock.
The theme of track four, Puttin' People on the Moon, is reminiscent of Gil Scott-Heron's Whitey on the Moon from his seminal album The Revolution will not be Televised, right down to the ability of the US to put people on the moon but not to provide healthcare to its citizens.
The Sands of Iwo Jima is about a real hero and a celluloid hero, the latter being John Wayne who, for all the swagger, avoided the draft during WWII and therefore was never seen in any battle theatre by the real heroes; George A, Patterson Hood's Great Uncle, was there, and doesn't need to swagger - he's the real deal. But after the hell of the South Pacific war the fripperies of life - a new car, a colour TV - seem trivial in comparison.
Centrepiece of the collection has to be three tracks concerning the career of Sheriff Buford Pusser, beginning with Boys from Alabama. From what follows, you know it makes sense! That is held in the undisguised evil of Mike Cooley's character in Cottonseed, the singer's gravelly voice lending itself perfectly to its subject, who has "put more lawmen in the ground than Alabama put cottonseed." The third song, The Buford Stick, wonders at Pusser's inability to take the hint, after being shot eight times and stabbed seven, that he isn't wanted. The trilogy, telling the story from the point of view of the bad guys, is intriguing because of that. There is an ambiguity created by the band - like, whose side are they on?
The track that follows, Daddy's Cup, has a storyline and delivery worthy of Springsteen or Lucinda Williams, about a boy trying to achieve his daddy's ambitions on the speedway track. You don't need to be into Nascar to get carried away by the tale of the boy's upbringing by a father determined to see his name on a trophy, and the subsequent disappointments and continuing burning passion, even after the old man has died. The song is so real you're stood trackside and can smell the grease, hear the roar of engines, and almost feel the bones breaking. It also showcases some of the best advantages of having three guitars in the band, with a driving acoustic rhythm complemented by electric and slide.
The album rounds off with Goddamn Lonely Love. I missed out on the free CD which featured this track, but I can see why it was the driver for people to buy the whole package, even though it's not typical material. But then, what is a "typical" DBT track? So far as I can interpret it, the song is about seeking solace for heartbreak in booze and whores. Whatever, needless to say, no solace is forthcoming.
So, 14 great tracks, which inspired me to delve still deeper into the DBT back catalogue, not once but three times (two more CDs and the DVD). Great packaging, too!
on 12 October 2004
I can't believe that nobody has reviewed this classic as yet.
When 'Southern Rock Opera' was released it brought the Drive-By Truckers to a whole new audience. That album was a stone cold classic guitar rock album, with more than a nod towards the southern rock sounds of Lynyrd Skynyrd, the subject of this particular 'rock opera'. The following album, 'Decoration Day', showed the Truckers taking their foot off the gas and turning down the amps to produce a more considered and restrained follow up. There were still electric rock workouts but the main sound of the album tended towards acoustic guitars. I wonder if I was the only listener who considered what would happen if the Truckers managed to incorporate the sounds of these two wonderful albums for their next release.
Well there's no need for wondering any longer, as that's precisely what we've got with the exemplary 'The Dirty South'.
I wouldn't have thought it possible, but the Drive-By Truckers have produced the best album of their careers, with the best songs they have ever written. Tracks 4 to 7 are a perfect example of the progression and maturity to be found here. 'Puttin' People on the Moon', 'Carl Perkins' Cadillac', 'The Sands of Iwo Jima' and 'Danko/Manuel' are simply wonderful and give a cross section of this band's writing talents, with two songs from Patterson Hood and one each by Mike Cooley and Jason Isbell. To have one songwriter of this ability would be more than most bands have but to have three is, quite frankly, greedy! The song 'Danko/Manuel', written about the two deceased members of The Band, is one of the best and most beautiful songs I've ever heard, and probably my song of the year, which is saying something coming from someone who's been obsessed with popular music for the last 35 years. The only album I've heard this year that even comes close to the excellence of 'The Dirty South' is Richmond Fontaine's 'Post to Wire', but even that pales alongside this fantastic work of art.
Right now the Drive-by Truckers are one of the best bands on the planet and if you don't own this album then you owe it to yourself to rectify the situation as soon as possible. Next to seeing them live, where they never fail to deliver, this is the best there is. You won't regret it.
The Drive By Truckers produce their third masterpiece in a row. They have continued with the theme of last year's Decoration Day in looking at life in the Southern US. As always the musicianship is superb with the three guitars weaving in and out of the mix while the rhythm section drives on. Highlights are hard to pick but "Where the Devil Don't Stay" is a superb opening, "Tornadoes" is an older song reflecting childhood memories of the day the tornadoes hit. "The Day John Henry Died" is a great song which really rocks but don't expect dumb lyrics, the song retells the story of how automation replaces human workers. The next song "Puttin' People on the Moon" is an angry song about a widower who lost his job in an car factory, resorted to drug dealing then lost his wife to cancer before taking a menial job in Wal-Mart to feed his kids. All the time people in the next town work for NASA "puttin' people on the Moon". They lose their jobs too.
"Carl Perkins' Caddilac" is a slice of Rock history featuring Sam Phillips, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash. It contains the immortal lines
"Dammit Elvis, I swear son I think it's time you came around
Making money you can't spend ain't what being dead's about". The "Sands of Iwo Jima" is a gem, an affectionate, acoustic tribute to the singer's great uncle who fought in the Second World War. The next song is "Danko/Manuel" in which Jason Isbell pays tribute to The Band while examining his own life as a touring musician. It's a really beautiful song and one of the CD's highlights.
The next three songs, "Boys From Alabama", "Cottonseed", "The Buford Stick" form a sort of trilogy about corrupt policemen who became famous and his criminal enemies. "Cottonseed" is another highlight. The CD closes out with four superb rockers, a tale of a NASCAR fanatic in "Daddy's Cup", the bleak "Ain't Never Gonna Change", the contemplation of suicide of "Lookout Mountain" and the lost love and drowning sorrows of "Goddamn Lonely Love".
I love this album, it is less country tinged and more rocky than Decoration Day but I would recommend them both to any fan of intelligent, rootsy rock.
on 10 January 2006
This was my first purchase by the DBT's, and it has been my most played CD of the last few months. There is not a bad song on the album. Hard (and some soft) guitar, honest, gritty lyrics, a tinge of country - superb. Southern Rock Opera is the next on my list.
on 15 January 2005
Raucous guitars, great lyrics, fantastic tunes.
Carl Perkins Cadillac, Tornadoes, Daddy's Cup, Goddamn Lonely Love are the highlights, but that's not to say that the rest is below par. In fact there's not a weak track on the album. They are all outstanding. Honest. I'm going to spend the first half of 2005 converting my friends to this wonderful record.
I first came across this band after reading an article about them in Classic Rock magazine around the same time that I found A Southern Rock Opera in the book 1001 Albums Your Must Listen To Before You Die. Both the articles pointed to SRO being their best album so I thought I'd give it a try. And was I glad I did, afterall what's not to like about an album that includes a track about the supposed feud between Ronnie Van Zandt and Neil Young and another about going to see a bunch of classic rock bands in concert. But more than that it rocked like a mutha. So, as is always the case when you discover a great new band, you get out there and try and find their other albums.
I found this one first and it became immediately apparent that Classic Rock and 1001........ had got it wrong. Good as SRO is, this is better. This album is their crowning glory. As its title suggests, the album is prepared to go looking into the darker side of the South. The Boys From Alabama and The Buford Stick telling the story of an infamous Southern Sheriff from a not so complimentary angle, Putting People On The Moon about the harsh realities that many people face in trying make ends meet. But the album also celebrates some of the Souths musical heroes in Carl Perkins Cadillac, telling the story of Perkins winning a cadillac from Sam Phillips but having to pay for it through his royalties. All this played out to some great melodies that go from gentle acoustic country through to out and out rockers, Lookout Mountain will have you reaching for that air guitar.
Drive By Truckers are one of the music business' best kept secrets. Despite constantly getting good reviews in the music press they seem to get no airplay and stuggle to make that break through to the next level. They deserve better, this is song writing of the highest order, going to places many fear to tread and refusing to pander to the ever increasing desire for mediocrity and safety. If, like me, you are increasingly frustrated at the modern trend to celebrate the bland in music then I suggest you check out this band and in particular this album. You will not be disappointed. And in all probability you will soon be seeking out their entire catalogue.
on 28 October 2005
As other reviewers have said, check out this CD. Sounding like they've been dragged out of some southern swamp, the band are fantastic, all excellent musicians. The CD is well recorded and mixed and the songs are all strong, some are very very good; putin people on the moon, tornadoes, carl perkins cadillac, brilliant!
If you like american rock bands here is a real one!
If you have phase reverse on your stereo, try it with this CD.
on 7 September 2012
This is a MONSTER of a cd. Do these guys ever make a dud record. Song writing of the highest quality either backed by crashing cords and pounding rhythms or soft melodic acoustic guitar. There is not a weak song throughout the whole piece of work and all wrapped up in a package of excellent artwork which you always get with DBT. I cant really pinpoint any stand out tracks because that would belittle the rest. But there is so much variety from the menacingly atmospheric "Tornadoes"; the clanging, jangling guitars slightly (but ever so slightly) country style on "John Henry" and "Carl Perkins Cadillac"; the beautifully melodic "Sands of Iwo Jima" to the truly thunderous powerhouse that is "Lookout Mountain" - a track guaranteed to send any live audience mental and screaming for more. Utterly brilliant!
on 30 January 2009
This CD When it was released restored my faith in real music.the dirty south is worth anybodys money who likes their music with some heart.Do yourself a real favour and invest in possibly the best cd to come out in the last few years.If anyone wants to purchase the next best thats called Brighter than creations dark and yes thats also by the Drive By Truckers.