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Drive-By Truckers' Patterson Hood: Five Essential Clash Albums

Drive-By Truckers with Patterson Hood in the foreground (photo by Danny Clinch, PR)

Drive-By Truckers with Patterson Hood in the foreground (photo by Danny Clinch, PR)

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When the Alabama-bred, mostly Georgia-based Drive-By Truckers were recording 2016's American Band, a candid assessment of contemporary issues drawn from a Southern perspective, they looked to a London band, the Clash, for inspiration and guidance.

Guitarists and co-lead singers Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley and their Drive-By Truckers bandmates have never shied away from bringing politics, liberal ideas, and critical thinking to their songs, encouraging conversation and rumination. American Band, their eleventh release, is no different. It's a powerful collection of songs, tackling the ongoing horrors of gun violence ("Guns of Umpqua"), the desperate gasps of those dwindling defenders of the Confederacy ("Surrender Under Protest"), and immigration, both past and present ("Ever South").

Since the Clash have played such a big role in the creative arc of the Drive-By Truckers, for FUV Essentials, we asked Patterson Hood, who recently moved to Portland, Oregon, to write about the band that has profoundly influenced him:

Drive-By Truckers' Patterson Hood: Five Essential Clash Albums:

It should be noted that I listed all five of the Clash's initial run of great albums in chronological order. All five are essential in their own way. It should also be noted that this is eight vinyl discs of rock and roll released in a six-year span. During that time they also released several singles, an essential EP, some 12-inches, and played a ton of shows all over the world.

No band, before or since, has ever made revolution so accessible to the masses without losing the power or essence of its message. Plus they just flat-out kicked ass. Every year I love them more and we need them now, more than ever. When our band was making our most recent album, we looked to the Clash as role models and tour guides to help us navigate every hurdle. What would Joe Strummer do?

The Clash (1977)
One of the all time great debut albums. Clash of '77 is British punk rock at its finest. Most bands never achieve the level this band began with: “White Riot.”

Give 'Em Enough Rope (1978)
Much maligned upon its release, this one has aged wonderfully. Stripped of the baggage of the stylistic prejudices of its time, now we’re left with an especially user-friendly entrance to their glory. Sandy Pearlman’s production has actually aged quite well on this. [Favorite track: “Drug Stabbing Time."]

London Calling (1980)
The absolute masterpiece. The best album of its decade and one of the top five all great rock and roll albums. The best album cover of its time also. [Favorite tracks: “London Calling," “Death or Glory," and “Train in Vain."]

Sandinista (1981)
Too much Clash is actually just about right. Three albums worth of experimentation and exploration. Every year it makes a little more sense. [Favorite track: “The Magnificent Seven."]

Combat Rock (1982)
Often overlooked because it was such a big hit. I love that once upon a time such a dense and dark album could be such a blockbuster. “Rock the Casbah” is as timely today as it was in 1982. [Another favorite track: “Straight to Hell."]

- Patterson Hood of Drive-By Truckers
April 2017

Read all of FUV's Five Essential Albums and Songs.

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