Scruffy redneck punksters Drive-By Truckers up the ante exponentially with Southern Rock Opera, a searing double-CD that analyzes not only the unlikely rise and tragic fall of Lynyrd Skynyrd but also

Scruffy redneck punksters Drive-By Truckers up the ante exponentially with Southern Rock Opera, a searing double-CD that analyzes not only the unlikely rise and tragic fall of Lynyrd Skynyrd but also the fictional band Betamax Guillotine, while serving as an often biting take on Southern culture. We get equal doses of Skynyrd's history and mythology, heartily spiced with uncontrolled substances and mad genius Patterson Hood's never-humble takes on such icons as former Alabama Governor George Wallace, late 'Bama football Coach Paul "Bear" Bryant, and the "duality of the Southern thing." Musically, it's mostly about glorious guitar overload, interspersed with punk sensibilities and Neil Young-esque subtlety—with cutting and imaginative lyrics that alternate between inspiring and chilling. The sheer scope of the project and a certain repetitive quality bog things down at times, but as we soar and then crash with the rollicking "Shut Up and Get on the Plane," the manic "Greenville to Baton Rouge," and spooky/sad "Angels and Fuselage," Southern Rock Opera triumphs as a ragged, profane masterpiece. Available only at DBT live shows and on their Web site, drivebytruckers.com.—RW

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