released Mar 16th, 2010

from the album - Drag The Lake Charlie

YouTube - Drive-By Truckers ~ Drag The Lake, Charlie

from all music

Flaunting a mix of Southern pride, erudite lyrics, and a muscled three-guitar attack, Drive-By Truckers became one of the most well-respected alternative country-rock acts of the 2000s. Led by frontman Patterson Hood and comprising a rotating cast of Georgia and Alabama natives, the band celebrated the South while refusing to paint over its spotty past. History, folklore, politics, and character studies all shared equal space in the Truckers catalog, which offered up its first blast of gutsy, twangy rock with 1998's Gangstabilly. However, it was the band's ambitious double-disc concept album, The Southern Rock Opera, that became their unlikely magnum opus. A two-act affair, the album explored Patterson Hood's fascination with 1970s Southern rock (specifically Lynyrd Skynyrd) while tackling the cultural contradictions of the region.

In 1985, college friends Mike Cooley and Patterson Hood (whose father, David Hood, was a Muscle Shoals session player whose bass can be heard on the Staple Singers' "I'll Take You There") formed a punk-inspired band named Adam's House Cat. The group disbanded six years later, and Cooley and Hood launched several follow-up projects before moving to different cities. They eventually reconvened in Athens, GA, where the duo formed Drive-By Truckers in 1996. Gangstabilly announced the band's official debut in 1998, while Pizza Deliverance saw Mike Cooley emerging as a competent songwriter. (The sonic contrast between Cooley and Hood's songs, as well as those compositions written by members Rob Malone, Shonna Tucker, and Jason Isbell, would soon prove to be one of the Truckers' strongest assets.) In 2000, the band documented its strength as a live act with Alabama Ass Whuppin', a concert recording taken from a show in Athens.

The vision for Drive-By Truckers' heralded rock opera took shape as Hood began to deeply address his own Southern roots. Recorded during a September heat wave in Birmingham, AL and boasting the band's three-guitar attack ( la Skynyrd) the album veered from nervy, powerful rock & roll to a bruised, jagged tone that recalled Neil Young & Crazy Horse. It was also an underground success, receiving a four-star rating from Rolling Stone and catching the ear of roots rock label Lost Highway, which reissued the album in 2002. Unfortunately for the label, many people who would have otherwise purchased the album already owned a copy; unfortunately for the Truckers, they were released from their contract just as their first album for Lost Highway was finished. After several months of between-label limbo, the band was picked up by New West Records, a Texas-based label that released Decoration Day in mid-2003. The album featured several songs by newcomer Jason Isbell, a young singer/guitarist who had replaced Rob Malone two years prior.

Touring and further lineup changes followed the album's release, with bassist Earl Hicks departing and studio musician Shonna Tucker (who was also Isbell's wife) climbing aboard to join Hood, Cooley, Isbell, and drummer Brad Morgan. The new lineup made its debut on 2004's The Dirty South, a concept album that spun Southern tales of small towns, violent sheriffs, and legendary record producers. A concert DVD, Live at the 40 Watt: August 27 & 28, 2004, arrived in 2005, followed one year later by Isbell's final album with the group, A Blessing and a Curse. In light of Isbell's decision to quit the band in favor of a solo career, pedal steel guitarist John Neff officially joined in 2007, having contributed to several Drive-By Truckers albums in the past. Brighter Than Creation's Dark introduced the revised lineup in 2008; additionally, it showcased Shonna Tucker's abilities as a songwriter, marking the first time that any of the bassist's contributions had appeared on record. Drive-By Truckers returned to the road that summer to support the record's release.

Although the band remained on tour well into 2009, the Truckers also found time to release their second concert album, Live from Austin TX, as well as a collection of unreleased material entitled The Fine Print: A Collection of Oddities and Rarities. Patterson Hood rounded out the year by issuing his first solo record, Murdering Oscar (And Other Love Songs), although 2010 found hm returning to the fold for Drive-By Truckers' eighth studio album, The Big To-Do.

album review

In his liner notes to the Drive-By Truckers' eighth studio album, The Big To-Do, bandleader Patterson Hood uses running away to join the circus as a metaphor for a variety of hopes, dreams, and ambitions, adding "I never really was all that into the circus as a kid, but I sure was into the Rock Show, which was sort of The Circus for kids of my generation." There's plenty of truth to that line, but while running off to chase the Big Top usually means escaping the realities of adult responsibility, Hood and his bandmates have become all the more willing to deal with the home truths of just getting by as they've become more successful, and The Big To-Do may be their most intense look yet into the messy realities of life in post-millennial America. In The Big To-Do, the Truckers sing about people trying to make sense of a world that's seemingly turned against them a young boy whose father has abandoned the family ("Daddy Learned to Fly"), a man who has lost a bad job and is struggling to support his family ("This ******* Job"), a wife confronting her unfaithful husband ("You Got Another"), an alcoholic who can barely remember the wreckage he's left behind ("The Fourth Night of My Drinking"), and a father trying to figure out what lessons he can pass along to his children ("Eyes Like Glue"). The Big To-Do is a subtle but genuine step forward from 2008's Brighter Than Creation's Dark, but while that album dug deep into the darker undercurrents of its songs, The Big To-Do resembles Bruce Springsteen's The River in that its stories of folks under punishing circumstances are married to music that tries to find some sort of grace and honor in the struggle without dulling the lyrical impact. And the Drive-By Truckers are one band good enough to make this conceit work "The Fourth Night of My Drinking" is a ravaged tale, but the melody builds some compassion for its doomed protagonist, and the anthemic "This ******* Job" brings out the bravery in characters pushed to the wall but determined to get through. And just as Hood's songs are as painfully honest as any he's written, the two tales of broken hearts contributed by Shonna Tucker add another, equally powerful perspective to the album, and Mike Cooley contributes three absolute winners, including the album's bittersweet closing number "Eyes Like Glue." The Drive-By Truckers have been the best and smartest hard rock band in America for a while now, but with The Big To-Do they also confirm they're one of the bravest, and they've created a triumphant album out of songs in which folks are forced to look failure square in the eye.

Track Listing

1."Daddy Learned to Fly" (Hood)
2."The Fourth Night of My Drinking" (Hood)
3."Birthday Boy" (Cooley)
4."Drag the Lake Charlie" (Hood)
5."The Wig He Made Her Wear" (Hood)
6."You Got Another" (Tucker)
7."This ******* Job" (Hood)
8."Get Downtown" (Cooley)
9."After the Scene Dies" (Hood)
10."(It's Gonna Be) I Told You So" (Tucker)
11."Santa Fe" (Hood)
12."The Flying Wallendas" (Hood)
13."Eyes Like Glue" (Cooley)