CD Review: Drive-By Truckers, The Fine Print

The Isbell songs rock your face off while also serving as a cruel reminder of how good the band was when he was in it and how much has been lost (on both ends) since his departure. The standout track, a cover of Warren Zevon's "Play It All Night Long," shows from opening riff to closing bridge just how good the Truckers can be, and basically forces your hand into turning up the volume.

So here we are. The best DBT album since The Dirty South and it's a collection of toss-offs. What does this say about the band, if anything? Many of the tracks have been in their arsenal for years prior to getting a “proper” release, so it's not like we're getting anything new. To be honest, the band hasn’t really "rocked" since The Dirty South and sometimes has outright sucked (see: A Blessing And A Curse). Before fans send me hate mail, I, too, like Brighter Than Creations Dark but let's be honest, it's not the album you're gonna give someone if you wanna turn them onto the band. Who knows, maybe Brighter will turn out to be the Southern Rock Opera of the modern Trucker-era, but (IMO) it's set apart from the material prior to ABAAC (an album I do not even acknowledge).

So. Is The Fine Print a sirens call to a Trucker era past, or is it a warning shot that the "rocking" version of the Truckers are back? Either way, this album is a must have for any Trucker fan.


In a way, The Fine Print (A Collection Of Oddities and Rarities 2003-2008), perfectly encompasses the “duality” the Drive-By Truckers have made a career of writing about. On one hand, it's the best album they've released in years. On the other, the bulk was recorded years ago. The Fine Print features that classic sound DBT fans grew to love. But most of the album is played by a lineup long gone. That said, The Fine Print is also the last album DBT was required to produce for New West Records, a label the band had grown increasingly un-infatuated with over the years. Its release finally enables DBT to move forward on their own label, Ruth Street Records.

The Fine Print is largely culled from sessions that gave birth to DBT’s 2004 album, The Dirty South. None of the tracks are especially new to any DBT enthusiast — two are by ex-Trucker Jason Isbell and surprisingly none are Shonna-fronted. (I say "surprisingly" because she's currently a "singer" in the band.)

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