Tag: muscle shoals

COMING SOON | Drive-By Truckers – American Band (2016)

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I stumbled across Drive-By Truckers thanks to an A.V Club article about bands with multiple songwriters.  That was around the release of their 2008 record, Brighter Than Creation’s Dark.  An album that made me go back and listen to everything they made before then, and be aware of everything that came after.  For about five years, I really liked the Truckers.  Then, in 2014, they released English Oceans, and my music listening has been completely dominated by the band ever since.  My like turned to love, turned to obsession, with the only substantial breaks in listening to them coming via listening to Jason Isbell, who used to be a member of…  Wait for it…  Drive-By Truckers.

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MUSIC REVIEW | Eddie Hinton – Letters From Mississippi (1987)

Eddie Hinton

Until a few months ago, I’m pretty sure I’d never heard the name Eddie Hinton. Now, I don’t know much more. But what I do know is, a Drive-By Truckers song that I’ve liked for a long time, Where’s Eddie, is really cool. I also recently found out that a few tracks on the Truckers Go-Go Boots album, including Where’s Eddie, are Hinton covers. So while I may not know much about Eddie Hinton, I know the Drive-By Truckers rate him pretty highly, and I can’t think of as much better recommendation. So here I am, diving into Letters From Mississippi.


The opening, title track lets me know that Hinton is one of those vocalists who makes up for any short comings in his vocal range with pure feeling. When his voice brakes, it doesn’t detract from the song. In fact, it makes it all the more affecting. It also lets me know that Eddie Hinton dealt in a pretty dirty, southern rock kind of sound. This is some Credence Clearwater / Lynard Skynard type stuff, and it’s a more than promising start to the album.

But straight away, Hinton lets me know it’s not all about the shit kicking southern rock. Everybody Needs Love betrays his Muscle Shoals origins with its soul roots. Complete with a spoken word story verse, Everybody Needs Love is a white dude sounding cooler than any white dude ever has any right to sound. Then it’s time for some boot scootin’ country rock with Uncloudy Days. It’s simple, to the point and kind of cool, even when it borders on corny.

On I Believe In Our Love, things get a little more slick, and that’s not really a good thing. Sure, if I had heard this song first, I’d probably like it a lot more. But coming after the raw, gritty realness of songs like I Will Always Love You, the extra polish takes some of that raw and gritty reality away. It’s also just kind of rambling and boring. Aimlessly shuffling nowhere for over four minutes.


Thankfully, the lull doesn’t last long, and Hinton is back, with Letters From Mississippi firing on all cylinders again with Ting-a-Ling-Ling and It’s All Right. They sound like a band all playing together, warts and all. Not individual tracks produced to perfection, then meticulously put together.

Complete with its dancing horn section, My Searching is Over sounds like it comes straight off The Blues Brothers soundtrack. I’m not sure if I mean that as a compliment or criticism. On the one hand, I love that movie and pretty much every song in it. On the other, I’m totally aware of the fact that it’s the ultimate clueless white guy idea of rhythm, blues and soul music.


This kind of soul and R and B is right up there with the genres of music I have the least amount of experience with. Its peak years happened long before I was born and it’s a genre I’ve never really had any interest in. I never actively avoided it, I just never sought it out either. Hearing Eddie Hinton on Letters From Mississippi is the perfect kind of entry level stuff to make me want to hear more and dig deeper.

Eddie Hinton

MUSIC REVIEW | Aretha Franklin – Aretha Arrives (1967)

Aretha

Aretha Franklin is musical royalty. She has songs that everyone knows, regardless of age, or interest in music in general. Respect, Chain of Fools and I Say a Little Prayer are tunes that will more than likely live on forever. But outside of the massive hits, I don’t know if I’ve ever heard a single other Aretha Franklin song. At the very least, I’ve never consciously chosen to listen to a single other Aretha Franklin song. But surely, she’s bigger and better than those few hits. Which is something I’m hoping to find out with Aretha Arrives.


Opening with a soul interpretation of the Rolling Stones’ Satisfaction, the first thing I realise about this period is the attitude towards cover songs. Nowadays, when someone covers an already famous song, it’s seen as a gimmick at best. Remember when Alien Ant Farm did Smooth Criminal with guitars? They’re the kinds of covers that get that reaction, and the bands’ reputations tend to suffer long after the novelty has worn off. But back in the 60s, it was like songs belonged to music in general, and as long as you put a unique spin on it, that was OK. And Franklin delivers a pretty great unique spin, belting out the familiar melody with a totally new life. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | The Secret to a Happy Ending (2009)

Secret

“Rock and roll means well, but it can’t help tellin’ young boys lies”.

For most of my life, country music seemed like the least appealing genre of music ever committed to tape. Then I found a band called Drive-By Truckers and realised that country music can be kind of amazing. For 25 odd years now, they’ve been plugging away, building an ever growing following and getting more and more successful. It’s that slow and steady rise that makes the Drive-By Truckers story such a great one to tell with The Secret to a Happy Ending.


Focusing mainly on singers and guitarists Patterson Hood, Mike Cooley and Jason Isbell, it’s a history lesson on the band, how they came to be and the ups and downs along the way, leading up to the firing of Isbell. Sometimes, seeing how art is made can take some of the magic and mystery out of it, but the southern story telling charm of every Trucker means this look behind the curtain gives their songs even more dimension. (more…)

MUSIC REVIEW | Patterson Hood – Heat Lightning Rumbles in the Distance (2012)

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After three solo albums and writing the majority of 10 long players for the Drive-By Truckers, prolific doesn’t quite seem to do justice to the output of Patterson Hood. It’s one thing to churn out great songs, but it’s another to churn out great songs where almost each and every one tells a compelling story. Well, Hood did it earlier this year, getting the writing credit on half of the Truckers awesome English Oceans. And I’m betting he did it a year ago too, with his solo outing Heat Lightning Rumbles in the Distance. Which is a wager I’m making right now.


An acoustic guitar, a drum kit that sounds like little more than a loose kick drum, hypnotic fiddle… 12.01 is Hood at his restrained, mournful best. Replace the fiddle with tinkling piano and you get Leaving Time. On a Truckers record, I always prefer Hood’s rockers and ass kickers to his ballads and reflections, but when he goes solo, his world weary voice seems so perfect for the lighter touch. (more…)