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Records to Die For 5: Dirty South, Sacred Steel

Drive-By Truckers
The Dirty South
New West 6058 (CD). 2004. David Barbe, prod. AAD TT: 70:42

Ambitious, zealous, emotional and fueled by Jack Daniels, The Dirty South, like its song about tornadoes, careens randomly across the cultural landscape. Three distinct songwriters telling tall tales of Carl Perkins, John Henry, Buford Puser, bootleggers, World War II vets and nasty rednecks who “empty out shotgun shells and fill ’em full of black eyed peas,” set to music that ranges from hard metal to country rock. The Truckers will almost make you believe in rock ‘n’ roll again. Their emotional tribute to the Band’s Rick Danko and Richard Manuel seals the deal. (93)

Sacred Steel: Traditional Sacred African-American Steel Guitar Music in Florida
Arhoolie 450 (CD). 1997. Robert Stone, prod. AAD TT: 74:29

The original recordings of two Pentecostal sects who traded the organ for a steel guitar in their worship services put American gospel and church music through new filters. The music is familiar, but it’s different; shades of blues, Hawaiian and surf music, R&B and small-combo blues and country-western join the hymn-and-gospel mix. Glenn Lee’s catchy “Joyful Sounds” inspired the Word, a pop group featuring Robert Randolph, this music’s only real crossover. The goal is to make the steel sound like the human voice, and nothing does that better than Willie Eason’s “Franklin D. Roosevelt, A Poor Man’s Friend.” “It was sad about Roosevelt” he wails. When he lets loose, the steel guitar cries real tears. (115)

The assignment: Write about an album you would die for in 100 words.


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