Drive-by Truckers

SXSW records

Phases and Stages

Drive-by Truckers

Southern Rock Opera (SDR) Wait a minute, three guitars? You mean like Skynyrd, the Outlaws, and Black Oak Arkansas? And a rock opera? What year is this from, anyway? It's an ambitious undertaking, to be sure, but Patterson Hood and the DBTs see it through nicely. In a ragged-but-right voice, Hood muses on George Wallace, football, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Neil Young, roadside car-crash memorials, and "the duality of the Southern thing" and argues his case pretty coherently throughout. Hood sees it from the vantage point of someone who was dying to get out of Alabama, went to college, and tried to shake his accent only to finally realize that being a Southerner was simply dyed in the wool for him. The DBTs never go all the way over the top in their three-guitar frenzy, much to their credit, and there's enough of a rough edge to their playing that they'll never be mistaken for the Seventies arena-rock heavies they so idolize. The end result is audacious, thought-provoking, and rocks like nobody's business. Even more amazing, there's not much wasted space on here. In the heyday of the concept album, Tommy, Quadrophenia, and even Sandanista! had tracks that seemed to do little more than take up space, but there's hardly a dud to be found on Southern Rock Opera. It could be a dodgy proposition, laying out something like this, but the DBTs make it work with splendid songwriting and confident playing; put 'em together and it reads like a Cliffs Notes history of Seventies rock and Seventies Southern culture. (Thursday, March 14, Antone's, 1am)

****

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