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Drive-By Truckers: Gangstabilly, Pizza Deliverance

Rob Hughes, Uncut, March 2005

Early, essential albums from Alabama-bred rockers.

A BURGEONING REPUTATION as the most vital Southern band since Skynyrd and the paint still drying on blistering sixth LP The Dirty South, the Truckers' formative years are overdue reappraisal. At the time of the five-piece's 1998 debut Gangstabilly, recorded studio-live in two days, lynchpins Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley were wrestling with direction. Bitten by the hardcore country of Tom T Hall and Bob Wills, the slash'n'burn of their present incarnation — third guitarist/songwriter Jason Isbell only joined in 2003 — erupts only sporadically among the pedal-steel and urgent twang. But the small-town tragedy, unflinching realism and bleak humour (trash-white, gallows-black) was there from the off in the pent-up howl of 'Buttholeville' and the cold sweat and dank three-part harmonies of 'Wife Beater' and 'Panties In Your Purse'.

Total word count of piece: 270

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