Without catwalk stage setups, surprise celebrity squads, holograms, or professionally-designed costumes, the Drive-By Truckers have made their name as one of the country’s best live rock ‘n’ roll bands the old-fashioned way: playing 2,000 shows over 20 years from dive bars to ornate concert halls and every room in between– revitalizing Southern rock along the way.
For anyone who has been to one (or 50) of their shows, there’s something more calescent and earnest about being a part of their audience. There are more fists and hands in the air than cell phone screens. Strangers sing every intricately worded line or smoldering stanza in perfect, thundering unison; they hang on every word of Patterson Hood’s between-song yarns. The Truckers newest album It’s Great To Be Alive! recorded during three nights at the hallowed Fillmore in San Francisco magically bottles all of that energy into one double LP (or three disc) set.
The album’s 35 tracks span the band’s very beginnings when co-founders Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley wrote songs in a mildewy apartment under the name Adam’s House Cat to the band’s current all-star lineup. And of course, there’s a hefty portion devoted to the Southern Rock Opera years when bassist Shonna Tucker and now critically acclaimed solo-artist Jason Isbell toured with the band.
“We wanted to create a somewhat idealized set list that flowed like and implied a sort of ultimate DBT Rock Show experience for posterity,” says Hood.
It’s Great To Be Alive! comes out on October 30th, but you can check out our premiere for “Runaway Train,” a deep cut from the back of the vault, below.
“One of the fun things about doing this live project was digging back and pulling out older songs and revisiting them with this lineup of the band and breathing some new life into some nearly forgotten songs,” he says. “This one is the oldest song on the collection and the oldest song that I still play. “Runaway Train” dates back to 1987 when Cooley and I had our first band together [Adam’s House Cat]. I actually wrote it about my parents’ divorce and I always considered it one of my best songs from that era. A much bigger band had a hit song with the same name around the same time that Adam’s House Cat broke up and for years I didn’t play this song out much. It’s really good to break it out now from time to time.”
To pre-order It’s Great To Be Alive! on iTunes, click here. The DBT will be touring throughout the South through November including stops at the Cannery Ballroom in Nashville and New Orleans’ Joy Theatre. Click here to see the rest of their stops.