From Patterson Hood and Mike Cooleys humble beginnings as Athens, GA-based band Adams House Cat to their present run as highly respected troubadours of modern Southern rock, Alabamas the Drive-By Truckers have had a long and consistently productive career. The release of Ugly Whores, Buildings, and Politicians: Greatest Hits 1998-2009 is a much-needed, though beginners chronicle of the bands complicated and fruitful track record.
Though the DBT lineup has fluctuated quite a bit over the years, this collection offers a balanced sampling from the bands first seven albums and the songwriting of its living-legend members: front men Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley and former member Jason Isbell.
Present are classics like the Isbell masterpieces Outfit and Never Gonna Change and Hoods howling chronicle of a Southern familys hardship in Sink Hole. Cooleys Zip City and Hoods Let There Be Rock and “Lookout Mountain” show the bands powerful rock aestheticstunning examples for DBT newbies to cut their teeth on. Likewise, Ronnie and Neil schools newcomers with a classic rock history lesson on the mythical feud between Neil Young and Lynyrd Skynyrd, a mere introduction to the bands clever storytelling. The greatest hits collection closes powerfully with an alternate version of Uncle Frank, trailed by Hoods honest adage A World of Hurt.
Noticeably absent are DBT staples that show their best chopsgems like ballad of economic hardship Puttin People on the Moon, Hoods autobiographic 18 Wheels of Love, Cooleys Where the Devil Dont Stay, and the anthem for Southerners bored of stereotypes in the duality of The Southern Thing. With such a brief track listing trying to cover such an expansive career, not all fans can be appeased.
Ugly Whores, Buildings, and Politicians serves as a concise outline for fans new to DBTs brand of rock. But the crucial takeaway message is that one must delve deeper into the Alabama axe-wielders catalog to truly taste their greatest hits. Therein lies the real fun.