Platinum Entertainment 15095-9580-2
Most of the great hairspray metal bands hail from either Los Angeles or Great Britain. Perhaps a geographical quirk, more likely a government sponsored initiative to increase spandex sales in influential markets. The mind is left to wander…what would happen if cock rock exploded in Sweden? Would all metalheads fill stadiums and raise their fists to rock with the legendary Yngwie Malmsteen? What if the newcomers on the Canadian music scene all cited radio legends Slik Toxic, Skid Row, and Lee Aaron as their primary influences? I submit the result might be significantly more interesting than whatever Our Lady Peace and The Tea Party are currently churning out, but I digress.
If you’ve ever wondered what would happen if the same Georgia music scene that spawned R.E.M, the B-52s and The Indigo Girls came up with a band that could rattle the serpent out of Whitesnake, look no further than Drivin n Cryin.
It is their arena rock tendencies that separate Drivin n Cryin from the likes of other southern rockers such as The Black Crowes and The Georgia Satellites. They don’t wear makeup and they can’t afford pyrotechnics, but it is clear that while the Crowes lean to psychedelia and soul, Drivin’ n Cryin are more fascinated by Judas Priest. What results is a complicated blend of country sensibilities, extended guitar solos and political consciousness.
R.E.M’s Peter Buck has taken a great interest in this band, contributing songs and producing lead singer Kevn Kinney’s first solo effort. One of Buck’s songs, “Indian Song” is included on this the band’s first live release, recorded last summer in Atlanta, Macon, and Chattanooga. “Indian Song” would fit in perfectly on any of R.E.M’s albums, and it is interesting to hear how a skilled classic rock band approaches its difficult harmonies. Alongside the thunderous “Rush Hour” and the pure country “Straight to Hell,” Drivin n Cryin certainly serve up an eclectic mix. Kinney even tries leading the crowd in a “Hey Jude” sing-a-long in the middle of “Honeysuckle Blue”–a ditty that would make Lynyrd Skynyrd proud. “House for Sale” and “Sometimes I wish I Didn’t Care” prove that Kinney is aware of his surroundings, and is not afraid to be critical–something that made Skynyrd such a convincing band and damages the likes of The Black Crowes.
Drivin n Cryin has never enjoyed commercial success and this “greatest hits” style live set sort of feels like the end of an era. Kinney’s nasal delivery is not for all tastes and like most rock ‘n roll live albums, there is a trade off between the added energy of crowd reaction and muddy, unsatisfactory recording.
However, if head-banging is still on your list of potential calisthenics and a country twang doesn’t frighten you, The Essential Live Drivin n Cryin might be worth a look.