Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide by Review Date: 2011-03-22


Drive-By Truckers: The Fine Print (A Collection of Oddities and Rarities): 2003-2008 (New West, 2009) "We don't tend to have many extra tracks lying around," aver Patterson Hood's typically readable notes, and if there are no printed lyrics, maybe that's because four of said tracks were covers: revamped Warren Zevon, obscure Tom T. Hall, meaningful Tom Petty, Shonna-fied "Like a Rolling Stone" (and I wouldn't say no to the "Moonlight Mile" I heard them do once). There's a dirty joke Mike Cooley turns into a children's song and a Christmas song Hood turns into a dirty joke, a Jason Isbell song that's three minutes too long and a Jason Isbell song that could be his own epitaph, a "Goode's Field Road" taken too fast and an "Uncle Frank" taken once more with feeling. And I haven't even mentioned "George Jones Talkin' Cell Phone Blues." Lead track. Should be. Not much extra here. A-

Drive-By Truckers: Live From Austin TX (New West, 2009) A consistently listenable document of a documentably titanic live band. The only hedge is that it's front-loaded with most of the same songs that lead the band's greatest album, not that I ever mind hearing them again. Second half is a generous assortment that revs up the signature "Puttin' People on the Moon" with roughed-up Hood and Cooley solos, improves on the Cooley highlight from their weakest album, and updates Hood's deathless set piece "18 Wheels of Love" to bring the miracle into the present time--and also, you'll hope, the future. B+

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