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Drive-By Truckers

Live from Austin TX CD/DVD

New West

Aug 03, 2009 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

The Drive-By Truckers live act is not exactly undocumented: Alabama Ass Whuppin’ showcased the band in Athens from 2000, and they returned there in 2004 for a concert DVD, Live At the 40 Watt. Live From Austin TX features both CD and DVD, and finds the Truckers farther west and slightly more laid back—whether because of the setting or the mileage, can’t say. The Austin City Limits stage set has a distressing, de-glamorizing effect on anyone who graces it; DBT is no exception. The wild, drunken pyschobilly side of DBT isn’t much in evidence for the first few tracks, pushed aside for a refined, professional presentation that mutes their appeal.

Punk, southern grit, and adventurous songwriting: that’s the DBT thing, and here they (initially) seem to miss a couple of those elements. Live From Austin TX doesn’t really pick up energy until about six tracks in, and when they do come to life on “3 Dimes Down” you can practically hear the collective audience relief: Finally, here’s DBT!

Thereafter, they do fine: even reaching back for a couple off of their debut, including the jewel of the set, “18 Wheels of Love.” Patterson Hood’s lengthy intro to that big-hearted rocker is one of the great stage stories of all time, and it sets him down as a rival to Springsteen for the working class hero role.

No frills to the DVD: the concert film, period. Intimacy and originality, that’s what we want from a live show—Live From Austin delivers the former, but the set and the performance never come up with the latter. These are great DBT songs, done well… no more, no less: as an album, it’s good, as a live album, it’s disappointing. (

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