Alabama Ass Whuppin'
(Second Heaven/Soul Dump)
First Appeared at The Music Box, April 2001, Volume 8, #4
Written by T.J. Simon
Fri March 16, 2001, 12:00 AM GMT
Seldom are live albums a good introduction to a new musical artist. They are generally under-produced efforts that fail to capture the magic of a band's concerts, and more often than not, these outings are geared towards diehard fans. Occasionally, however, there are exceptions to this rule, such as Alabama Ass Whuppin' — the latest release by the Athens, Georgia-based band of southern rockers known as Drive-By Truckers. Culled from material recorded in 1999 at several concerts in the group's home state, the album captures the fiery intensity and raw energy of the band.
Throughout Alabama Ass Whuppin', both the audience and DBT seem to be having a good time. The group's commitment to solid performance shines through on each of the dozen unpolished, hell-raising, country-punk tracks. The band's songs are cut from the same cloth as The Bottle Rockets, Steve Earle, Neil Young, Southern Culture on the Skids, and Lynyrd Skynyrd, and the group's vision of southern living is a million miles away from the upper-class world of Ted Turner, debutante balls, and plantation mansions. Instead, Drive-By Truckers' South is filled with cussing drunks, trailer park poverty, and truck drivers eyeballing your mama. There's even a song called Buttholeville — a bleak scene painted over loud guitars and the shrieking vocals of frontman Patterson Hood.
Alabama Ass-Whuppin' begins with Why Henry Drinks, a blistering ballad about the pressures of being caught in the type of dead-end life that can drive a man to drink. Hood's vocals sound like a pre-sober Steve Earle, and the music that surrounds him on this and many of the songs is utterly flawless hard-rocking mayhem. In addition, Drive-By Truckers' music is deep-fried and spiced with humor and irony. The song 18 Wheels of Love tells the story of Hood's mother running off with a trucker to get married at Dollywood, and The Avon Lady is the tale of a local woman conning neighborhood kids out of their lunch money. The band swears that both these funny songs are true stories, and Drive-By Truckers is able to pull off these wry numbers by poking fun at southern life without ever sounding cartoonish.
Since its inception in 1996, Drive-By Truckers has been pleasing audiences north and south of the Mason-Dixon line with both its incendiary live shows as well as its two previous albums Gangstabilly and Pizza Deliverance. While Alabama Ass Whuppin' is not going to win a place in any New South Chamber of Commerce, it definitely deserves a spot in any CD collection of southern guitar rock and fiery alternative country.
Of Further Interest...
1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2001 The Music Box