Drive-By Truckers: THE BIG TO-DO


18. Mär. 2010, 17:48

Drive-By Truckers: The Big To-Do

Been listening to DBT's new album non-stop for 2 days now, and I still haven't quite got a handle on it. I like it better now than I did on first listen, but i still think it is one of the band's weaker efforts. Of course, DBT has set the bar so impossibly high that it is hard to measure up every time out. I think my biggest complaint about the album is this: too much Hood, not enough Cooley. Brighter Than Creation's Dark was so great because it contained about 9 Mike Cooley songs, balanced out by 5 or 6 great Patterson Hood songs. Add a little spice from Shonna Tucker, and the whole pot of stew was amazing. I think too much Hood just gets a little boring to me, especially since this batch of songs is not among Patterson's best. OK, "The Fourth Night Of My Drinking" and "Drag The Lake, Charlie" are outstanding, and "The Flying Wallendas" is very good, but the rest of the songs are not up to his usual standards.

Don't get me wrong; I don't hate this album. On the contrary, it is a very good album which I will get a lot of listens and a lot of enjoyment from. It's just that I've been spoiled. I have come to expect instant classics from DBT every time out, and this one is just not in the same class as Decoration Day, Southern Rock Opera, The Dirty South or Brighter Than Creation's Dark.


  • RandyB1961

    I think it does stand on its own, and I think it will grow on me as I listen more. I'm only saying that it could have been better, based on their track record up to this point. On a numerical basis, I'd give it 7.5 out of 10 stars; by contrast, none of their last 5 albums would have been below 8 stars.

    18. Mär. 2010, 20:35
  • MrModernRock

    I haven't gotten the album yet. I'm waiting on it to come from newburycomics since they had the liner booklets signed by the band. Anyway, I'm hearing mixed levels of affection for the album. Nobody is hating on it, just some people like it a lot more (ie: than some others. Personally, there are 4 "levels" of DBT albums: SRO, Decoration Day, and The Dirty South Brighter Than Creation's Dark Gangsta Billy, Pizza Deliverance A Blessing and A Curse Those 3 at the top are all southern-rock classics. SRO works because Patterson is focused in on one theme. The Cooley tracks are stand-outs of course, but that second disc is all about Patterson. Decoration Day and The Dirty South work because they're like a collection of stories about everyday people. Cooley's, Isbell's, and Hood's songs stand toe to toe. The albums are well-rounded because Isbell's and Cooley's songwriting provide a great contrast to Hood's. Brighter Than Creation Dark - its a good album, but only slightly better than DBT's first two albums and maybe in another year I may drop BTCD's below those first two. I love Cooley like everybody else, but more Cooley doesn't automatically make an album better. More Cooley makes the contrast with Hood's songs less impacting. Shonna's two songs, while on their own not that great, still stood out because of the contrast with the rest of the album. BTCD's just seemed like it was missing something to me to put it in the league with those top 3 albums. Perhaps its more the track sequence than anything else because I feel Hood's strongest songs (and 95% of them are really superb w/ That Man I Shot being one of my favorite Hood songs) are on the second half of the album.

    18. Mär. 2010, 22:07
  • MrModernRock

    I forgot to add this. A Blessing and A Curse is personally my least favorite album of theirs. It just seemed like they were weighing the line between succumbing to the pressures of more exposure and fame (or record labels) and tried to walk that fine line between staying true to their base and develop a mass appeal. At least that's what I feel, especially when you consider the album's length is well under the average length of their albums.

    18. Mär. 2010, 22:11
  • sunnychick

    Nice review. I think you just about nailed it with 'Of course, DBT has set the bar so impossibly high that it is hard to measure up every time out.' Never a truer word. Which makes it a bit hard for bands like DBT to please everyone with every album release. I can only say I absolutely love it and find it just a great all round album, on a par with all the others. Cheers.

    21. Mär. 2010, 21:54
  • David4realz

    Great review, & I agree in the fact that it doesn't measure up to previous DBT albums. But I still think it's a great album, Drag The Lake Charlie will be an instant hit, & Shonna's vocals on You Have Another are phenomonal as always. This Fucking Job & The Flying Wallendas are also very good. While it may be true that it's not one of their best, it will be hard to put out better albums because the bar HAS been set high.

    23. Mär. 2010, 14:15
  • the18thbeatle

    I agree with everyone here that if The Big To-Do seems a bit lackluster it's only in comparison with the rest of their catalogue, especially the SRO to Dirty South era stuff. It's really been growing on me the past week and a half, and although it doesn't flow as well as an album as BTCD, it took less spins for it to really hit its stride. I'm really liking Birthday Boy, (It's Gonna Be) I Told You So, Santa Fe and especially Daddy Learned To Fly. In my opinion, Daddy Learned to Fly is maybe the most heartbreaking song Patterson Hood's ever written (right up there with Little Bonnie). And from this interview here, , it seems that DBT are just finishing up a sort of companion-piece record to The Big To-Do. And if you think of the Big To-Do as if it were only one half of a double album, it looks damn good.

    27. Mär. 2010, 19:50
  • AvettBrother

    Sigh...I wrote a big long comment and it didn't post. I don't have the whole album, just the tracks Birthday Boy and This Fucking Job. I have however, listened to 30 second clips of the rest of the songs, and I must say that I was a little disappointed on first hearing. When I get the full album I'll have to process the whole thing and figure out what I like and don't like. I was put off by the abundance of Hood tracks, since Cooley is my favorite writer. However, the iTunes version of the album offers a Cooley-penned bonus track called Strutter. Also, we get an all-Cooley 45 for Record Store Day, complete with him decked out on the cover!

    16. Apr. 2010, 14:18
  • RandyB1961

    AvettBrother, you echoed my feelings on the Hood/Cooley song ratio! By the way, "Strutter" is actually a KISS cover.

    16. Apr. 2010, 15:04
  • dancingabout

    Great review. I remember hating (I MEAN HATING) Hiatt's 'Tiki Bar' when it first came out, now I count it as one of my most beloved discs. Give this one some time and by all means go see them Live while this disc is on the top of their set list. I swear it'll grow on you. I hated Avett's 'Kick Drum Heart' until I saw them do it live last week, gotta admit it's starting to grow on me.

    6. Mai. 2010, 18:16
  • AvettBrother

    Randy, thanks for the correction on "Strutter"! I am now officially smarter than I was!

    7. Mai. 2010, 11:41
  • srcorb

    saw 'em last night and i miss jason isbell

    27. Jun. 2010, 19:11
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