The Upshot: With 35 tracks spanning all phases of the DBTs’ collective career, the live-at-Fillmore album shows them in their true element — raucous, raw and unapologetic. A classic concert album, period.
BY LEE ZIMMERMAN
Where once bands like the Allman Brothers and Lynyrd Skynyrd provided the template for the so-called Southern Rock sound, today’s generation of resident rockers from below the Mason Dixon line is far more contentious than ever before. Take the Drive-By Truckers for example. In 2001, they released their classic opus Southern Rock Opera, a fictional account of a southern rock band dubiously dubbed Betamax Guillotine, a group whose ill-fated trajectory clearly recalled that of Lynyrd Skynyrd. Indeed, they’ve proudly paraded their Alabama-bred heritage on every other effort before or since, and those individuals that emerged from their ranks, Patterson Hood and Jason Isbell in particular, have gone on to earn significant solo success as well.
Given the fact that they can now count ten studio albums as part of their collective canon in the nearly 20 years since they first formed, the idea of a sprawling three disc concert collection certainly seems warranted. Never mind that the DBT boys have released three live albums before; somehow It’s Great To Be Alive seems like the essential set, given that it boasts some 35 tracks spanning all phases of their collective career. It shows them in their true element — raucous, raw and unapologetic, a combination certain to appeal to diehard devotees and practically anyone else whose taste in music is generally affirmed by frequenting sweaty beer joints and any local roadhouse bar.
Recorded live at the Fillmore in San Francisco late last year, it includes any number of stand-outs and standards, among them “Used to Be a Cop,” “Made Up English Oceans” and “Sink Hole,” but anyone itching to get at the essence of what this group is all about need only zoom in on “Ronnie and Neil,” a knowing nod look back at the supposed feud between Ronnie Van Zandt and Neil Young, which we all know was instigated after the old Neil rattled some traditional southern sensibilities.
These days though the South is ready to rise again, and it could do far worse than by serving up a soundtrack dominated by Drive-By Truckers tunes.
DOWNLOAD: “Used to Be a Cop,” “Made Up English Oceans,” “Ronnie and Neil”