Hot, loud, sweaty and a little rambunctious could describe just about any Dirty Truckers gig. Confining the band and their cohorts to Moe’s Lounge made it inevitable at Bands For Babs.
This is tough to write…
I’m going to get right to it. On July 3rd, our dear friend Barbara “Babs” Walsh suffered an AVM/stroke. She went into a coma. The news was brutal. Babs is one of my favorite people in the entire world. Anyone who knows Barbara understands what a big supporter she is of the Boston music scene. Any band that has endured her brutal honesty is better for it.* Even moving to L.A. several months ago didn’t slow her down. She had already been back this way a couple of times, attending shows and catching up with all of us who miss her. Suddenly, she was fighting for her life. Devastating.
This is easy to write…
You know what? Babs is a tough cookie. Her recovery, thus far, has been tremendous. Now we’re putting on a show with a bunch of her friends to help with the financial side of things. What kind of show? How about a two night blowout at Radio! Bands For Babs! Upstairs! Downstairs! Rock! Punk! Metal! Reunions! We’ve got it all in store for you. The show details and Facebook events are listed below. We hope you can make it out to our good ol’ fashioned rock ‘n’ roll extravaganza and help get Babs get back on her feet.
There’s also a website for donations: Funds For Babs
* Barbara has been particulary vocal about her distaste for the Dirt Mall song “The Demons & The Damned.” It’s already a long song, but I’m thinking we may bust out an extended version for this occasion. Just for you, Babs!
Has it really been four years since the last Dirty Truckers release? Dang. No matter. The important thing is that The Dirty Truckers are back with a new EP, Tiger Stripes.
The ‘Truckers manage to pack all of their trademarks into this 18 minute collection. Guitars run ragged, driving bass lines and lyrics that hit a little too close to home can all be found within these six songs. “Stranger In Disguise” kicks things off. It’s one of those barn-burners The Dirty Truckers do so well. “Human Contact,” “Feedback” and “Arms Length” trade a little bit of the opener’s rambunctiousness for bigger hooks, proving it’s not all about being rockingest bands in the land.* “Not That Into You” and “Just Run Away” mine the alt-country territory the band often flirts with. The former is nicely augmented by some well arranged backing vocals and a subtle organ part. The latter features a Vibra-Slap. You can’t go wrong with a Vibra-Slap.
Where to get it:
* Their recent show to celebrate the release of Tiger Stripes suggests their still in contention for that title.
The Dirty Truckers were back in action Friday night. The band was celebrating the release of their new Tiger Stripes EP and the 7″ single for the song “Human Contact.” It had been a while since the last time I saw these Boston wranglers. I was starting to get the shakes. Their set at Radio was just what I needed. The Dirty Truckers blasted out one of the best sets I’ve ever seen them play. They played the new stuff. They played the old stuff.* They rocked the in-between stuff like nobody’s business. “Sea Pines” and “3 Weeks To Go” blew the doors off the joint.** They threw in a couple of covers to keep themselves honest. In the end, the ‘Truckers reminded everyone that they’re one of the best rock ‘n’ roll bands around, not that we’d forgotten.
* Including “Backpack” from their first record.
** Both off of 2008’s fantastic Loose In The Joints
Loose In The Joints starts off with the infectious “Sea Pines.” It’s clear from the get-go that The Dirty Truckers are raising their game once again. Once content to be the closest thing Boston had to The Replacements (certainly not a bad thing), The Dirty Truckers have really come into their own on their third release, pouring on their love of The Rolling Stones, Tom Petty and Faces.
Once again we see some lineup changes for the band. Lead ‘Trucker Tom Baker is still there, as is long time bassist Jamie Griffith. However, new members John Brookhouse (The Irreverends) and Brian McElroy (Golden West Motor Lodge) immediately make their mark. We’re introduced to Mr. Brookhouse via the fiery intro solo on “Sea Pines.” It’s well known that I think John is one of the best guitar players in Boston. He makes my case all over this record. Brian McElroy provides some great backing vocals throughout.
The band is absolutely on fire this time around. “Breakin My Stones” jumps out of the speakers. “3 Weeks To Go,” “Almost Justify,” and “Crosscutting Concerns” all rock with reckless abandon. There’s even a song that references fellow rockers *AM Stereo. As great as the loud numbers are, some of the record’s high points come when the band dials back the throttle. “Boston Wrangler,” “2 Different States” and “So So Numb” are among the finest song Tom Baker has written to date.
Loose In The Joints is also the best sounding album the band has made. Mike Quinn’s recording and David Minehan’s mix give us a clear sound of a band in top form. Great songs played with heart and captured in a way that sounds just right. This is my kind of record.
Where to get it:
Nicole Tammaro once commented: “Dirty Truckers shows are fun. Everybody plays. Everybody gets up on stage.”
The Dirty Truckers show at Radio was fun. Everybody played. Everybody got on stage.
Washed & Ready is another batch of gritty rock n’ roll tunes from The Dirty Truckers. Tom Baker is still at the wheel, but the rest of his crew has changed. Dave Foy replaces Jim Delios behind the drums and Tad Overbaugh joins in on guitar. Most importantly, long time ‘Trucker Jamie Griffith makes his debut on bass.
Tom still draws from the well of The Replacements on songs like “Off The Hook”, “Without A Sound” and “All She Ever Wanted,” but the songs are catchier this time around. “Heavy Metal Weekend” begs for a crowd sing-along (and gets it during live performances). The ‘90s indie rock influences that occasionally popped up on Bush League Romance are gone, replaced by a more straight up rock & roll feel. It’s a revved-up romp in the vein of The Rolling Stones (“Not Missing A Thing”) and Tom Petty (“Cunnin’”).
Like their debut album, Washed & Ready features two cover tunes. “Help You Ann” (Lyres) is solid and energetic. The album closer, Nick Lowe’s “Ragin Eyes”, features a fantastic harmonica solo by Jed Parish (The Gravel Pit).
Six years is a long time between albums. Thankfully Washed & Ready delivers more of what you would expect from The Dirty Truckers.
Where to get it:
Tom Baker is the closest thing this city has to Paul Westerberg. He’s also the man responsible for creating the ragtag group of rock ‘n’ roll revelers know as The Dirty Truckers.
The Dirty Truckers share a kindred spirit with The Replacements. The Boston band’s debut record, Bush League Romance, feels as rough and tumble as the those of their Minneapolis forefathers. “Been Around” and “The Rise & Fall” sound like they could have been on Let It Be or Tim. “Settle Down” is cut from the same cloth and is still a live favorite. The ripping “Any Offers” would be a better fit on Sorry Ma, Forgot to Take Out the Trash. We’re even treated to a cover of “Sixteen Blue” (there’s a cover of Squeeze’s “In Quintessence”, but I’m foolishly and stubbornly talking about The ‘Mats right now).
The record also has a ‘90s indie rock vibe to it at times. “Backpack” could have been a hit on WBRU back in the day. “Thanksgiving” has a J Mascis-esque guitar solo (by David Minehan) that soars over its plaintive intro. On “The Bar” we get our first glimpse of Tom Baker’s love for The Rolling Stones, an influence that becomes more prominent on later Truckers’ records.
While the songs may not be quite as hooky as those to come, Bush League Romance is a solid rock record by a band that has become a perennial favorite around town. The Dirty Truckers know how to play good old fashioned rock n’ roll. We’re lucky’ to have ‘em.
Where to get it:
Hot B-Bender action!!!