The Drive-by Truckers
The Complete Dirty South
This is more of a buyer’s guide than a regular review. Let’s just say for this writer, that The Drive-by Truckers’ The Dirty South, has long been the crown jewel of their robust catalog and that this enhanced version only improves on it. Going further, The Dirty South is easily one of the top ten roots albums since the turn of the millennium. This was when the band boasted three singer-songwriters, co-founders Patterson Hood, Mike Cooley, and Jason Isbell. As the title implies, this is the shady side of the area the band calls home – rife with tornadoes, bootleggers in the hills, small-time criminals and larger-than-life characters such as Sam Phillips, John Henry, and Sheriff Buford Pusser of the 1973 film Walking Tall. . The album was originally intended to be a 2-LP/2-CD set but the band and the powers to be at New West were at odds in those days, and the band had to settle for a single CD, thus eliminating three songs which are now considered “bonus” tracks in the complete package. Oh, the band and New West, with different management now, have made peace as you may have expected.
Those three songs – “Goode’s Field Road,” “TVA,” and “The Great Car Dealer War” appeared on Fine Print – a collection of oddities and rarities (New West -2009) which also by the way, has a few other gems such as “Uncle Frank” and “George Jones.” “Goode’s Field Road” also appeared on their expansive live It’s Great to be Alive (ATO – 2015). So, in that sense there is no new song material which begs the question of what else is new about it. The album has been re-sequenced and expanded to the band’s initially proposed 17-song track listing. In addition to the aforementioned three songs that were left off the original album, there are 4 remixed songs, and 2 featuring newly updated vocals. Also included is a 32-page book featuring original and new liner notes written by the Drive-By Truckers’ Patterson Hood, track-by-track descriptions written by Hood, Mike Cooley and Jason Isbell, never-before-seen photos, and updated artwork by the late Wes Freed. The Complete Dirty South was remastered by the legendary Greg Calbi. This definitive version of the album will finally be available as the band intended. Those 32 pages of narrative from Patterson Hood and the anecdotes of each song alone are worth the investment for true DBT diehards.
As fans know, Hood was never satisfied with his original vocal on the scathing “Puttin’ People on the Moon,” so the tune now has a new one and is remixed and remastered. Here, as just one example of the kind of commentary you’ll find in the booklet is Hood’s explanation of the song –
“I wrote ‘Puttin’ People on the Moon’ in the passenger seat of our van driving through western Tennessee and northern Georgia in late 2003. At the time I was angry about the recently started war in Iraq and the polarization President Bush and his cronies were unleashing on our country, but also drawing a parallel to the policies of President Reagan, who at the time many still viewed as a grandfatherly presence despite his enacting so many policies that had major negative ramifications on our future, a future we’re still living through now. The song was probably the best political song I had ever written at that time and unfortunately is more timely today than it was in 2003. We recorded it in Muscle Shoals (in one take) in January 2004, but by the time the record came out, I had already begun to regret the vocal take, which attempted some things I hadn’t yet really learned how to do at that time. As the years have passed, it is one of two on that album that has always really bothered me when I hear it played, while live it has morphed into a truly powerful song for me to sing. When we were given the opportunity to do a ‘Directors Cut’ version of what many consider to be our masterpiece, I wanted to take another stab at that vocal and nailed what I believe to be a definitive version of it in one take. One that truly captures the inherent anger and despair of the song as written and played by the band. The scream at the end might be the most primal recording of my voice anywhere in our catalog and I’m very proud to have this version out there after all these years. The Complete Dirty South might indeed be DBT’s masterpiece.”
The band at the time, in 2004 was comprised of the three singer-songwriting guitarists Hood, Cooley, and Isbell with bassist Shonna Tucker and drummer Brad Morgan. As you know, Isbell departed in 2007 and Tucker in 2011. Here is a side-by-side comparison of the original to this newly issued package.
|Original Album and Sequence||The Complete Dirty South|
|1.Where the Devil Don’t Stay||1.Where the Devil Don’t Stay|
|2. Tornadoes||2. Tornadoes|
|3.The Day John Henry Died||3.The Day John Henry Died|
|4. Puttin’ People on the Moon||4. Puttin’ People on the Moon (remixed & featuring new vocals)|
|5. Carl Perkins’ Cadillac||5. Goode’s Field Road (remixed)|
|6. The Sands of Iwo Jima||6. Carl Perkins’ Cadillac|
|7. Danko/Manuel||7. TVA|
|8. The Boys from Alabama||8. The Sands of Iwo Jima (remixed & featuring new vocals)|
|9. Cottonseed||9. Danko/Manuel|
|10. The Buford Stick||10. The Boys from Alabama|
|11. Daddy’s Cup||11. The Buford Stick|
|12. Never Gonna Change||12. Never Gonna Change Never Gonna Change|
|13. Lookout Mountain||13. Cottonseed|
|14, Goddamn Lonely Love||14. The Great Car Dealer War (remixed)|
|15. Daddy’s Cup|
|16. Lookout Mountain|
|17. Goddamn Lonely Love|
You have the information you need. Diehards may well opt for this complete set for the sonic enhancements and the wealth of information in the booklet. If you are by chance new to this recording, it is a ‘must have’ and you might as well avail yourself of this version, the one the band had always intended to record.
- Jim Hynes
Help Support Making a Scene
Your Support helps us pay for our server and allows us to continue to bring you the best coverage for the Indie Artists and the fans that Love them!
Make a one-time donation
Make a monthly donation
Make a yearly donation
Choose an amount
Or enter a custom amount
Your contribution is appreciated.
Your contribution is appreciated.
Your contribution is appreciated.DonateDonate monthlyDonate yearly