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Ultimate Collection: Drivin' N' Cryin'

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Album Review

Atlanta's Drivin' n' Cryin' is one of the more perfect bands for Universal's spotty "ultimate" series, since all but one of their albums were recorded for either Island or Geffen, two of the mammoth label's sublabels. So instead of licensing tracks from other labels (which the "ultimate" series in the past has been reluctant to do to an adequate extent), all of Drivin' n' Cryin's best work can be efficiently represented here. Unfortunately, the strict chronological order that is followed here isn't necessarily the best way to present a group with as many diverse sides as Drivin' n' Cryin'. A mix of laconic country, folk, and bluegrass with hard-driving, occasionally metallic rock was the band's unlikely calling card. It was also probably the reason they never attracted a widespread audience despite tours opening for Athens buddies R.E.M., as well as Bob Dylan, Sonic Youth, Neil Young, and Cheap Trick, all of whom are influences on their sound. Like the original albums, the drastic shift on this anthology between their pounding electric side and shuffling acoustic side is frequently jarring. A compilation that transitioned more logically between the band's styles would have been far more listenable. Lead singer/lyricist Kevn Kinney's plaintive voice works perfectly on the less frantic tunes such as 1997's "Telling Stories" but also adds a tempering quality to raging rockers such as 1991's "Fly Me Courageous." When the band's two sides combined, as on a rugged blues-rocker like "The Innocent," the band found its niche and successfully juggled their varied influences. Left to their own worst instincts on pounding crunchers such as this album's one non-album track, a live in Atlanta "Toy Never Played With," and "Turn It Up or Turn It Off," the clunky, riff-based, virtually Kiss-style rockers never seem to resonate convincingly. But when they hit a groove as on the disc's predominantly acoustic final four tracks, Kinney's reedy yet emotional delivery and the band's sure sense of melody combine to produce music of rare intelligence, power, and grace. At 20 tracks and almost 80 minutes, this is truly the "ultimate" collection of Drivin' n' Cryin's work and an ideal introduction to a group whose unique approach wasn't always best served on their individual albums.

Customer Reviews

It's Cool to be from the South...

d'n'c was at one time the standard bearer for modern southern rock. Their style, while at times plaintive and nostalgic, is straightforward and honest, rootsy yet modern. They are the counterpoint to the 80's-90's angst-filled youth movement of a Nirvana or PearlJam. Their music is extremely complex in its overall style, meaning they can hardly be pigeonholed, while their tunes are accessible and easy to like. They are the kind of songs memories stick to--like driving the Blue Ridge Parkway to "Honeysuckle Blue"--my favorite of all their songs--or the sing-along frat boy anthem you'd swear you knew from forever, "Straight to Hell." While they can be beautiful and poignant with their alt-kuntry twang like "Telling Stories," they can rock as hard as anyone with "Can't Promise You the World" or "Toy Never Played With." Look again at the picture above--yes it's a power TRIO (of course with another player live), but these guys thrown down. Having seen them a bunch of times in both large venues as well as bars, I can tell you they are one of the best and loudest live shows ever.

College Rock at It's Finest

So many memories of their great songs come to life in this must have album. Easily one of the best albums from my rock and roll college days. These songs NEVER get old, which is the test of a truly classic album. Excellent vocals, mesmerizing tunes, and the perfect mix of "bang your head" rock and roll make this a FREAKIN' classic. Long live Drivin N' Cryin.

GA at its finest (80s and 90s)!

Around 1996 I had a great night in Athens, GA. I saw some crap band named Matchbox 20 open for the Lemonheads. Later on that night I saw Evan Dando play in the second encore "Straight to Hell" at the Drivin' n Cryin' set at the 40 Watt. Everyone was kinda toasted and some of it was a blur, but it was amazing seeing Evan playing a true rock anthen with the boys!


Formed: 1985

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Formed in Atlanta in 1986, the hard-rocking, Southern roots music-steeped Drivin' n' Cryin' were never embraced on a national level, but have reigned supreme in the region during their tenure. Originally made up of singer/songwriter Kevn Kinney on guitar and vocals, Tim Nielsen on bass, and Paul Lenz on drums, the band's debut was the timeless hard rock/bluegrass fusion Scarred But Smarter (1986) on 688 Records, the label that grew out of the punk-era Atlanta club of the same name. The band followed...
Full Bio
Ultimate Collection: Drivin' N' Cryin', Drivin' N' Cryin'
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  • Partial Album
  • Genres: Rock, Music, Rock & Roll, Roots Rock
  • Released: Aug 15, 2000

Customer Ratings


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