DRIVIN’ N’ CRYIN’ – BEST OF SONGS (ALBUM REVIEW)
June 1, 2015
by Neil Ferguson for Glide Magazine
For any band that lasts thirty years, the notion of a greatest hits compilation is almost silly. Even the best of these rarely do justice in capturing a band’s catalogue and respective eras. On their newly released vinyl compilation, Georgia alt. country legends Drivin’ N’ Cryin’ took a decidedly different approach to the “best of” formula. Instead of focusing on their most well-known songs (they did this in 2006 with both a studio and live release), Kevin Kinney and co. focused on a collection of four EPs — Songs From the Laundromat; Songs About Cars, Space and the Ramones; Songs From the Psychedelic Time Clock; and Songs for the Turntable — released between June 2012 and January 2014. This idea works because the compilation is a special vinyl only release, and the presentation as well as the choice of songs definitely puts the emphasis on the vinyl.
The album packaging is loaded with colors and is made to resemble a beat up compilation from the 70s that one would find in the 99-cent bin today. Nothing about the band besides the song titles is alluded to on the cover, which gives you all the more reason to throw it on the turntable and see where it takes you. It’s clear from the track layout that the band wanted each song to capture a different mood in order to give the listener a well-rounded experience. “Out Here In The Middle Of Nowhere” is a cranked up punk tune that gives way to the catchy chorus of the Tom Petty-esque “Turn”. This style continues with “Strangers”, a heartbroken love tune about ill-fated relationships that shines with a jangly guitar riff. Kinney showcases his vocal chops when he hits the high notes on “Roll Away The Song”. This tune is undoubtedly the heavy-hitter of side A with dueling guitars, massive drum fills and soaring riffs blatantly intended to replicate the arena rock of 70s behemoths like Led Zeppelin. The rocking continues onto side B with the shreddy, charged up “Dirty” and the gloomy “Ain’t Waitin’ On Tomorrow”, which also seems to embrace the band’s Southern roots with its greasy roadhouse blues. The band pays tribute to their fellow Georgians with “R.E.M.”, a bouncy song heavy on background harmonies that musically mimics its namesake. Perhaps the most appropriate song on the record, “The Little Record Store Just Around The Corner”, relishes in crate digging with psych rock grooves. Everything moves in a totally different direction with album closer with “Space Eyes”, an instrumental surf guitar song functioning as one final bow.
Rather than put out a grandiose retrospective, Drivin’ N’ Cryin’ have chosen to hone in on a particular period of their band with Best Of Songs, one that many fans may not have previously had a chance to explore. Everything about the release of this record captures a band hellbent on doing exactly what they want. The result is a straight up rock and roll record that – whether at party or a late night whiskey session – beckons you to drop the needle and enjoy.