Drive-By Truckers: Brighter than Creation's Dark (2008)

 |   |  2 min read

Daddy Needs A Drink
Drive-By Truckers: Brighter than Creation's Dark (2008)

Now more than two decades into their impressive career -- and with more than two dozen live and studio albums behind them -- the Drive-By Truckers out of Athens in Georgia  inspire passionate loyalty for their Southern-framed country rock'n'roll and literate, sometimes provocative, lyrics.

They often make you want to crack the top off a beer and kick back, but the words touch some deep and dark places as well.

They celebrate the South in all its flawed and faded glory, and longtime fans would immediately point newcomers to their exceptional Southern Rock Opera album of 2001, initially released the day after 9/11. They look at their world through the prism of a Southern blues-rock band like Lynyrd Skynyrd.

At the time they were broke and in a move wh9ich anticipated crowd-funding, solicitied for investors to stump up seed money to get the project off the ground. After its initial release the band signed to Lost Highway, re-released it and their career took off.

There was considerable talent within the band (there have been line-up changes since), notably Patterson Hood the chief singer, songwriter  and co-founder (with Mike Cooley) who grew up in Muscle Shoals, Alabama where his father David was the bassist inb the Muscle Shoals studio band.

Here they open with a weary song about a guy at the gates of Heaven ("two daughters and a beautiful wife"), blast through some primal Stones'-style rock'n'roll, then offer up a troubled lyric about trying to do right in this troublesome world over a simple thunk'n'thrash.

Then Shonna Tucker steps up to the plate for her self-penned ballad I'm Sorry Huston.

Elsewhere they are pure country as played by a rock band, reflect on how rock'n'roll changed when grunge-angst was marketed to kids (Self Destructive Zones), and on Home Field Advantage sound like classic Fleetwood Mac filtered through the Atlanta Rhythm Section.

Cooley plays the straight country aces like the pedal-steel coloured Lisa's Birthday and Checkout Time in Vegas.

Great lyrics leap out everywhere: "There's a big fat man on a mechanical bull in slow motion like Debra Winger"; "A bloody nose, empty pockets, a rented car with a trunk full of guns . . ."; "It's all about where you put the horizon, said the great John Ford to the young man rising"; "I don't know God but I fear his wrath, I'm trying to keep focused on the righteous path."

The war in Iraq/Afghanistan gets a drubbing from the point of view of ordinary people affected (the crunching Neil Young rock of That Man I Shot, the Petty-with-pedal steel of The Home Front), and so does the rapaciousness of crystal meth in an eerie interlude.

Lots of musical diversity and moods to get your teeth into.

This is all smart, grabbing stuff and the departure of guitarist/writer Jason Isbell the previous year didn't seem to have troubled them -- the Truckers had gained and lost members in the six years before this -- and it looked like the great keyboard layer/songwriter Spooner Oldham was a fixture in the line-up  . . . but he was gone by the follow-up The Big To-Do.

Any way you cut it, Brighter Than Creation's Dark was at the time another terrific Truckers album . . . and essential in any sensible music collection which allows for rock and country and soul to co-exist with politics of the heart and the nation.

For more on Drive-By Truckers' albums at Elsewhere start here

These Essential Elsewhere pages deliberately point to albums which you might not have thought of, or have even heard . . .

But they might just open a door into a new kind of music, or an artist you didn't know of. Or someone you may have thought was just plain boring.

But here is the way into a new/interesting/different music . . .

Jump in.

The deep end won't be out of your depth . . .

Share It

Your Comments

Chris - Dec 19, 2008

Not quite their best or 'defintive' artistic statement but 'Brighter Than Creations Dark" is still better than most albums in 2008. Long, sprawling and difficult to absorb in one session it does however have some Cooley Classics in 'Three Dimes Down', 'Perfect Timing' and 'A Ghost To Most'. Patterson Hood's contributions are also superb, plus we have the introduction of Shonna Tucker as a songwriter with four songs including the beautiful "Purgatory Line'.

The Lone Ranger - May 29, 2009

Drive By Truckers played three sets at Bluesfest 2009,one of them with Booker T.

I saw one whole set,a third of the Booker T set and the last half hour of their second set.

I thought they were horrible.

Just three guitars trying to make as much noise as possible.

No subtleness at all.

The vocals were illegible due to the noise.

post a comment

More from this section   Essential Elsewhere articles index

Nick Lowe: Dig My Mood (1998)

Nick Lowe: Dig My Mood (1998)

It is coming up close to two decades since Nick Lowe -- once a laddish and witty figure in British rock in the immediate post-punk days -- decided to take the long view on his career and reposition... > Read more

Andrew Hill: Point of Departure (1965)

Andrew Hill: Point of Departure (1965)

Blue Note's periodic reissue of its extensive catalogue ensures that it isn't too difficult to find their greatest albums – this being one of them – but with Point of Departure's... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere



This two-hour doco screening in the Prime Rocks series on December 5 was made by the team behind the moving Amy Winehouse film . . . with Noel and Liam Gallagher as executive producers, given... > Read more

Over the Rhine: The Long Surrender (GDS)

Over the Rhine: The Long Surrender (GDS)

After a series of fine albums, Ohio's Over the Rhine here -- with sympathetic producer Joe Henry – deliver their most sophisticated album to date, one with an ear on their European-cabaret... > Read more