Release Date: Feb 15, 2011
Record label: ATO
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Country-Rock
Click to Listen to Drive-By Truckers' Go-Go Boots File under "R&B murder. " That's how Drive-By Truckers describe the music on their ninth studio album, a raggedy revision of classic Southern soul, complete with two Eddie Hinton covers. It's a slight shift from DBT's muscular alt-country, but the rest is familiar: great storytelling – tales of embittered ex-cops, adulterous preachers and emotionally scarred Vietnam vets – hinged to choruses that lodge in your cranium.
The Drive-By Truckers continue an unprecedented creative streak with Go-Go Boots, an album of less urgent country ballads that harkens back to band’s Pizza Deliverance days. What Go-Go Boots lacks in shit-kicking barroom rock and fucking awesome 70s guitar solos (which the band’s 2010 album The Big To-Do had in spades) it makes up for in songwriting. Lead Trucker Patterson Hood is still focused on telling small-town rural crime stories, taking time to craft complete character sketches of village bloodshed on tracks like The Fireplace Poker and Go-Go Boots.
The Drive-By Truckers are a band that likes to do things the old-fashioned way. They proudly proclaim that they record their music "on glorious two-inch analog tape," they still think in terms of albums with two (or four) sides, and their sound is firmly rooted in the traditions of Southern rock and the blues. They also hark back to a time when rock bands made an album every year followed by a tour, and if the DBTs haven't quite held firm to that schedule, since they broke through with Southern Rock Opera in 2001, they've managed to release six studio albums, a live CD/DVD, another DVD-only live set, and a collection of rarities and unreleased tracks, all while keeping up a demanding touring schedule.
After nine albums, it's easy enough to get a handle on Drive-By Truckers: expect songs about lives turned sour; expect music that shuffles around the Deep South, incorporating elements of country, rock and southern soul. In the album's title track (and its companion piece, The Fireside Poker), Patterson Hood paints a picture of a faithless preacher: "Every Friday he shacked up with his mistress/ Doing things he'd never do with the Mrs." On Dancin' Ricky, the unexpected simplicity and realism of Shonna Tucker pleading "Hey Ricky, don't let the diabetes get you," stops you short. Best of all is Used to Be a Cop, with Hood taking the part of an embittered man whose failure was predestined.
Go-Go Boots looks to relieve the lingering hangover from last year’s release The Big To-Do, which turned out to be a big to-do about nothing—a record that fell flat for pundits and fans alike. The latest Drive-By Truckers release goes in a refreshingly rootsier direction. Scrubbed of the raucous guitar grunge that characterized Big To-Do, and with the reverb toned down a notch, Go-Go Boots allows the band’s more natural influences to shine through: R&B, white soul, country ballads and honky-tonk.
There is a corpse on the Drive-By Truckers' new album, Go-Go Boots. Both the title track and the eight-minute forensic epic "The Fireplace Poker" are about a woman who meets a bloody end at the hands of her husband, who is a preacher. These two songs are the inverse of the true-crime saga "The Wig He Made Her Wear", a standout from the band's 2010 album, The Big To-Do, about a woman in a small Tennessee town who shoots her allegedly abusive husband, a Church of Christ pastor, in the back with a shotgun.
“It’s too soon”. “Why not just release one classic album that has the best elements of both albums?” “Almost every time an artist starts to get prolific, they get into trouble”. These gripes/statements would be just superstition if each one didn’t have a bit of truth behind them. When a band is unsatisfied with the final product opts for a few extra months in the studio, it oftentimes results in a superior album.
A major disappointment that follows a minor disappointment by less than a year, Drive-By Truckers's Go-Go Boots suggests that one of America's finest rock bands is in a full-on slump. Ultimately, the Truckers's decision to divide their last two albums into the harder rocking The Big To-Do and the mid-tempo Go-Go Boots plays against them, leaving both albums unbalanced and in desperate need of selective editing. Cut the filler from The Big To-Do and replace it with the couple of strong, trademark DBT ballads from Go-Go Boots and there could be a solid record between the two.
Country music has a rich history of storytelling. Whether it’s Johnny Cash and his tales of drugs and life in the penal system, or Jeannie C. Riley’s life as a kick-ass homemaker in “Harper Valley PTA”, there’s no denying the power of the tales woven by artists across the country spectrum, all to tell a specific story bubbling with universal applicability.
We’re just gonna go ahead and say it: Go-Go Boots is arguably the finest work we’ve seen from the Drive-By Truckers. And by arguably, we mean that if you were to give us a book deal and a case of beer we’d argue about it til the money ran out and the hangover wore off – over their ten previous albums there have been enough moments of raw, unbridled brilliance to fill more than a few volumes of criticism. But for this moment – a gray cloudy day before the birds have come back and flowers begin to bloom, in the heart of a nation in flux, more confused and scared that it has been in generations – Go-Go Boots, with all its stripped-back rawness, understated arrangements and weary world views, is the right album at the right time.
The prolific Truckers hit yet another career peak. Chris Lo 2011 Georgia-based rockers Drive-By Truckers have to be one of the most prolific bands working today; ninth LP Go-Go Boots comes less than a year after the release of its predecessor The Big To-Do. The songs for both albums were recorded during the same sessions, with the more strident rock‘n’roll tracks released first.
Like every other disc they've made in the past decade, Go-Go Boots takes a few spins before you finally get it. It's a grower if only because it's quieter than the Athens, Ga., boys and girl have been lately, but also because of the sweep of styles they tackle. They've gone country and soul (and country-soul) in the past, yet "Everybody Needs Love," a kindhearted shout-out written by Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section R&B icon Eddie Hinton, is unlike anything the Truckers have attempted.