Almost 32 years from the date of their first performance at Atlanta’s 688 (10/9/85), Island Records will re-release Drivin’ n’ Cryin’s third album Mystery Road in multiple formats on October 6th.
Following up 1988’s Whisper Tames the Lion, a year on the road all over the world found DNC on fertile creative ground, knocking out sounds that adorn multiple future band albums as well as Kevn Kinney’s 1990 solo release MacDougal Blues. Mystery Road was chock full of rockers (“Honeysuckle Blue,” “Toy Never Played With,” “Malfunction Junction”), slightly poppier tunes (“Wild Dog Moon,” “House for Sale”) and folk-country (“With the People,” “Ain’t It Strange,” “Straight to Hell,” the latter covered by Darius Rucker on his upcoming album When Was the Last Time, out Oct. 20th). In other words, pretty much what Drivin’ n’ Cryin’ were about. After Pete Buck recorded a number of demos with the band (included on the re-release as bonus tracks) showcasing the raw edge of their live shows, Island decided he didn’t have enough of a name/resumé or some such nonsense, so Scott MacPherson was chosen as producer, and what we know as Mystery Road was released in February 1989. The label still didn’t know what to do with them (releasing “Wild Dog Moon” to radio at the same time they released “Straight to Hell” as a 45/cassingle in stores), and MTV liked “Honeysuckle Blue” enough to use it as bumper music for one of their contests but not enough to feature the video in any regular rotation.
Twenty-eight years later, the album should still be heard. For those who already own it, the sharper remastered sound and demos are worth a fresh purchase, plus you finally get the title song, “Mystery Road,” bumped from the original release at the last minute in favor of “Syllables.” For those who don’t own it, here’s a small sample of what the Atlanta music scene was about in the late ‘80s.