Release Date: Jul 16, 2002
Record label: Lost Highway / Universal Distribution
Don't be deterred by the rather misleading title. Not a rock opera in the sense of Tommy or Jesus Christ Superstar, this sprawling double disc is more akin to a song cycle about Southern rock, in particular Lynyrd Skynyrd. Almost six years in the making, the Drive-By Truckers have created a startlingly intelligent work that proudly stands with the best music of their obvious inspiration.
Back in 1985, Patterson Hood met Mike Cooley at the University of North Alabama and the two formed Adam’s Housecat, a rootsy punk band that won Musician‘s “Best Unsigned Band” award in 1988 and recorded an album that was never released. AHC lasted until 1991-and didn’t play any Lynyrd Skynyrd either, a band these two Alabamans heard enough of growing up. Time, however, has a way of recasting the past, and one day, an older, wiser Patterson Hood found some Skynyrd records in a sale bin.
Stained with motor oil and hard liquor, the Drive-By Truckers' latest offering offers a murky trip through Southern folklore and a homage to the redemptive power of rock ‘n’ roll. True to its title, Southern Rock Opera details the rise-and-fall of fictional rockers Betamax Guillotine. Sharing many similarities with prototypical Southern rockers Lynyrd Skynyrd, the band encounters personal disaster, dope and the effects of an entire sub-Mason-Dixon mythology.