Release Date: Oct 30, 2015
Record label: ATO
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Hard Rock, Alternative Country-Rock, Southern Rock
Halfway through the Drive-By Truckers' new live record, Patterson Hood abruptly stops singing four minutes into “Goode’s Field Road”, a dark song with a paint-by-numbers Truckers premise: a junkyard operator makes some bad decisions and ends up committing suicide to avoid being sent to jail. “He was a god-fearing man, he was a family man, he was a hardworking man, trying to raise his family and support everybody the best he could in difficult times and a troubled economy in North Alabama,” Hood says, now preaching in front of the band’s minor-chord sludge. By the time Hood finishes expounding on various histories—social, economic, cultural—of his beloved Lauderdale County, the reason for his very un-rock 'n' roll professorial digression becomes clear: sometimes a story can’t be told in just a song.
One of the reasons the Drive-By Truckers have matured into one of America's finest rock & roll bands is ambition; they're solid players and write great songs, but just as important, they take storytelling seriously, and when they make an album, they strive to do more than just serve up a bunch of new songs. Most DBT releases aren't specifically concept albums, but nearly all of them have a thematic consistency in which the individual songs cohere into a larger framework. With this in mind, it makes sense that the band would want to do something more elaborate than the run-of-the-mill live disc, and 2015's It's Great to Be Alive!, recorded during a three-night stand at the the Fillmore Auditorium in San Francisco, California in the fall of 2014, is an oversized (over three hours on three CDs or five LPs) look at the band's body of work so far, with a set list that reaches back before the beginning ("Runaway Train" was a tune Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley cut for their pre-DBT band Adam's House Cat) all the way up to English Oceans, the album the group released just a few months before these shows.
Drive-By TruckersIt’s Great To Be Alive!(ATO)Rating: 4 out of 5 stars “Every night is important. Every show should be played like it’s the most important show we’ll ever perform … Play it like we might die before morning. Play it like it’s the last show we’ll ever get to play. It just might be.” That’s co-founder/co-frontman Patterson Hood writing in this live album’s liner notes.
Four decades removed from Cheap Trick at Budokan, Frampton Comes Alive! and Alive! from Kiss, the age of the live album holding cultural currency has long passed. While these landmark albums helped introduce the artists to larger audiences, the “live” aspect of these releases has always been a false conceit. Consisting of songs recorded on multiple nights, at various venues or even during a span of months, these long-treasured artifacts are more a collection of curated live takes mixed and mastered with the aim of painting the bands in the most positive light.
Three-hour compilation of the roots-rockers’ Frisco residency As their 25th anniversary approaches, Georgian dustbowl rockers Drive-By Truckers have tunnelled their way deep into the quarry mine of the earthy Americana tradition with their constant touring and songs of poker-playing devils, whisky-swigging women, simple mountain folk and good Christian farmers murdering grasping moneymen the length of tornado country. .
Where once bands like the Allman Brothers and Lynyrd Skynyrd provided the template for the so-called Southern Rock sound, today’s generation of resident rockers from below the Mason Dixon line is far more contentious than ever before. Take the Drive-By Truckers for example. In 2001, they released their classic opus Southern Rock Opera, a fictional account of a southern rock band dubiously dubbed Betamax Guillotine, a group whose ill-fated trajectory clearly recalled that of Lynyrd Skynyrd.