Patterson Hood’s Drive-By Truckers are still touring in support of their eighth album, Brighter Than Creation’s Dark, released in January 2008, and the Athens, Ga., alt-country/Southern rock combo has found a new way to keep themselves entertained. “We just got a new turntable for the bus and have been hitting the stores on this run and playing records non-stop,” Hood says. “Here is a sample of what’s been spinning in the back lounge.”
Levon Helm Dirt Farmer (Vanguard, 2007)
I’m playing it right now, just bought it on vinyl in New Haven and it sounds incredible. Levon is a true American treasure and his singing (his return to being able to sing after throat cancer) is nothing short of a miracle. Long Live Levon. If Ava, my daughter, had been a boy, we would have named him Levon.
Hall & Oates Daryl Hall & John Oates (RCA, 1975)
Honestly, not one of their better albums, but it does have “Sara Smile,” which is probably the greatest blue-eyed soul song of all time. (I think the entire band agrees on this point.) The album cover is hilarious and the nude photo of John a little disturbing. Our fondness for Hall & Oates is legendary (and often mistaken for irony, but it’s not). If they ever need a new producer, I want the job. H2O with DBT would be killer!
Neil Young Live at Massey Hall 1971 (Reprise, 2007)
This is one of my all-time favorite Neil albums and it even sounds greater on vinyl. The vinyl pressing is way overpriced, but still worth it, dammit. He never sang or played better than this performance. His long-time producer, the late David Briggs, always told him he should have released this instead of Harvest (many of those songs were premiered on this recording) and he was probably right on that point.
Ray Charles The Ray Charles Story: Volume One (Atlantic, 1962)
An early compilation of his Atlantic sides with great liner notes by the late, great Jerry Wexler. It came out in the early ’60s but was mostly recorded in ’52-’53. It’s in great shape and the cover is stellar.
The Silos Cuba (Record Collect, 1987)
This was one of the better albums of its time (1987) and was way ahead of its time. I learned a lot about songwriting from listening to this album in my younger days and it still holds up so well. A beautiful album from stem to stern and both writers were masters at implying a story more than telling it. If you ever run across this album out there, do yourself a favor. Great cover, too.