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Go-Go Boots
Drive-By Truckers Go-Go Boots
Released 11 February 2011
Producer David Barbe
Label Play It Again Sam
Length 66:52
Genre Country rock
Website www.drivebytruckers.com

Everything about this album looks like some long-lost Frank Zappa confection. The band name, the album title, the tacky album art, the ridiculous song titles... it’s all there. Bar the music, that is. Because, beyond 'Harder Than Your Husband', Frank Zappa seemed to steer well clear of Nashville Country. Drive-By Truckers, on the other hand, practically live there. Hailing from Athens, Georgia (hometown of REM), the band have defined themselves along redneck Country & Western lines, in a way that is eerily familiar to anyone who has ever switched on a radio in the Irish countryside.

So: no Frank Zappa jazz stylings. Instead there are fourteen tracks of nasal mourning, twanging guitars and brushed snare drums. For the first half of the album, this creates a plodding, crude, and harmless form of hick wallpaper. The second half, however, is more interesting.

Opening with a song about jilted lovers that has the good grace to call itself 'Assholes', Go-Go Boots begins to get into its stride. The Country staples are here: A man expresses self-pity having just walked out on his wife, a policeman expresses self-pity for being fired owing to his drunken violence, the kind of slap-stick misogyny adored by Nick Cave (his Murder Ballads could well include 'The Fireplace Poker'), and a lonely woman asking after the whereabouts of her man– which, judging by the men on display here, may be an unwise quest. Yep, there sure is enough violence going on here to warrant a Parental Advisory label. But this isn’t Rap, it’s Country. So...

However, there is one stand-out track here that redeems the whole album. 'Pulaski', a fireman’s axe and something I thought would be used as a murder weapon after having heard about "fifteen whacks" from 'The Fireplace Poker', is a gentle, soulful ballad that could have been penned by Tom Waits circa Mule Variations. Having worked up to this epiphany, it’s a pity that the album’s closer is the underwhelming 'Mercy Buckets', which contains the arrogant moronicism: "I will be your saving grace..."

Sure you will.

- Paul McGranaghan