As their 25th anniversary approaches, Georgian dustbowl rockers Drive-By Truckers have tunnelled their way deep into the quarry mine of the earthy Americana tradition with their constant touring and songs of poker-playing devils, whisky-swigging women, simple mountain folk and good Christian farmers murdering grasping moneymen the length of tornado country.
Their cult standing culminated in a three-night stand at San Francisco’s Fillmore in November 2014, compiled here in a three-CD live orgy of southern gothic storytelling, guitars made of Alabama truck-stop diesel and Mike Cooley roaring out gnarled melodies as tumbleweed and Marlboro reds tighten around his larynx.
A nourishing stew of country blues, funk, boogie, swamp rock and classic soul pitched midway between the Screaming Trees, Springsteen, The Eagles and The Lemonheads, DBT’s gritty authenticity is flavoured with dusty blue-collar political and economic commentary.
Tales of suicidal car salesmen, bitter ex-cops, cynical hookers and, ahead of Made Up English Oceans, the KKK marching through their home town during a visit by President Carter – ‘A lot changed after that and a lot didn’t’ – help give heart and depth to their infectious squall.
Meanwhile, prairie-grunge epics like Tornadoes, Goode’s Field Road and 13-minute closer Grand Canyon have an emotional force like being sucked through your outdoor shithouse roof by a T10 twister. At three hours-plus, it’s a lot of breadline bluster, but it’s life-affirming nonetheless.