A Collection of Oddities and Rarities 2003 – 2008
So the Drive-By Truckers have another release and another triumph. The Fine Print (A Collection Of Oddities And Rarities 2003-2008) is a collection of alternate takes, covers made for tribute albums, and stuff that just plain never made it on a legitimate DBT disc. If you are like me, you may have already heard some of this stuff in your tremendous collection of live DBT shows generously made available on the internets but there were a couple of very pleasant surprises for me. Plus, this is worth buying just for Patterson Hood’s liner notes. . . I won’t spoil the surprise by quoting too extensively but they had me laughing and thinking at the same time.
So, the covers. Four out of the twelve tracks on this disc are covers. I will admit to being surprised that “Mama Bake A Pie (Daddy Kill A Chicken)”, is a Tom T. Hall song, written during the Vietnam war. This could easily be a DBT song and it rings true with today’s headlines.
The versions of Tom Petty’s “Rebels” and Warren Zevon’s “Play It All Night Long” are both great. And here, I’ll have to admit not immediately recognizing the Petty tune and thinking, “Oh, this is going to be one of DBT’s stand-out songs.” And it is – they just didn’t happen to write this one. And the Zevon tune ends up bringing in more than just the one Zevon song. Nice tribute.
So many of Bob Dylan’s songs sound better when covered by others and the one here is no exception. The cover of Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone” might be the best take of that song. Ever. Each member of the band circa 2005 (meaning Jason Isbell is still there) sang a verse for this and I agree with Patterson here – it’s magical.
And now for the actual DBT songs. “Uncle Frank” and “TVA” written by Mike Cooley and Jason Isbell, respectively, give two different takes on the impact of the Tennessee Valley Authority on the people of the Southeast. TVA giveth and TVA taketh away. Cheap power and jobs vs. environmental damage and broken promises. For those of you who don’t know about TVA, it’s just a little government project that completely changed the face of the South in the mid-20th century.
My current favorite, though, is “Mrs. Claus’ Kimono.” No surprise if you know me. It’s a twisted little tune by Hood about an elf with designs on Santa’s old lady and a plan for getting what he wants. Really really sick. I love it.
According to the liner notes, Cooley’s “Little Pony and the Great Big Horse” apparently had its start as a dirty joke. You have to read the fine print, though, to get that as it turns out to be a really sweet ballad about kids growing up and parents getting old. Yeah, I said sweet. The joke is kind of cute, too.
Okay, I could keep writing but you guys get the picture, right?