Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Album Review - Drive By Truckers - The Big To-Do

This review is part of the "Over Flow" Review Series. For various reasons these past reviews were not published anywhere else. I am tagging them as "Overflow Reviews" and may add some extra information after if needed but I will keep the ratings and reviews just as I originally wrote them. Enjoy:
Drive By Truckers
The Big To-Do
***and1/2 out of ***** 

Clever lyrics about southern culture on the skids in front of an overloaded 3 guitar attack containing monster riffs and pounding drums that make fists fly, form the foundation of the Drive By Truckers 10th studio album.  For those who thought that backing Booker T might leak some more R&B into the bands output, put those fears (or hopes) aside as The Big To-Do is more of the same from the group.  The albums first three songs are the strongest and each one gets a smile from clever word play and just cast iron southern rock. 

"Daddy Learned To Fly" explodes with six strings everywhere and will bust ear drums making it hard to hear Patterson Hoods lyrics conveying a sad tale of a boy who misses his dad.  The bender song "The Fourth Night of My Drinking" starts with "On the first night of my drinking/I was looking for my keys/I was half blind and stinking and bloody at the knees" and goes down hill from there, capturing a descent into the bottle perfectly.  Things really shine on the could be single "Birthday Boy" in which Mike Cooley presents a engaging foray of a hooker and a john that makes you laugh and cringe, but contains some all-time lyrics with the stanza:

The pretty girls from the smallest towns,
get remembered like storms and droughts
that old men talk about for years to come,
I guess that's why they give us names
So a few old men can say they saw us rain when we were young.

The album continues in this vein but never quite gets back to reach those first few heights.  A tune about Mary Winkler ("The Wig He Made Her Wear") brings real life events into the Truckers path while "You Got Another" takes up the light tone of piano ballad breaking up the male sound with Shonna Tucker's vocals. 

One thing the group never does is skimp on the proceedings and the album clocks in at 53 minutes but feels longer as things tend to drag towards the end.  "This Fucking Job" feels repetitive and "The Flying Wallenda's" will probably soar live but plods a bit here.  "After The Scene Dies" seems like a Craig Finn tune; in fact by this point The Hold Steady are the cold northern twin to the Drive By Truckers dirty south take on America, and any fans of past Trucker albums will undoubtedly love what the The Big To-Do has got to offer this time out.      

The Truckers have always existed on the out skirts of my musical perimeter.  I have just missed their opening sets at shows I attended, enjoyed some of their past songs and albums but never felt the need to really dig too deep into their catalog.  The Big To-Do doesn't cause me to instantly dive into their waters, but it proves that are legit and not just a critics darling.  I think all of these jams will probably grow live, so I will make New Years Resolution for 2011 to see the DBT's. 

Here are some tracks, all live:
This is my favorite tune on the album, "Birthday Boy"

Another Cooley Number...gotta say I liked them better this time out, "Get Downtown"

And one for the Hood, "The Fourth Night of Drinking"

No comments:

Post a Comment