Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Drive-By Truckers: Southern Rock Opera [, 2001]
The alt-country reprobates enter three-guitar heaven on a what-it-says-it-is that gains power and bite as the fat lady's moment approaches. When Patterson Hood lets his bandmates write songs on the first disc, you can take a piss break, but Mike Cooley and Rob Malone both contribute winners on the second--about alcoholism and Cassie Gaines easing her brother into Lynyrd Skynyrd, respectively. Although George Wallace is treated to a crucial cameo, Skynyrd are the tragic heroes throughout. The last three songs get them on the plane, up in the air, and plummeting to their doom. Every detail and digression tells. A-