“I can’t die now/ ‘Cause I got another show to do,” hollers Patterson Hood on “The Living Bubba”—all parched road-dog desperation and two-step twang. That the band’s de facto anthem was written about a fellow Southern rocker dying of AIDS says a lot about these unflinching realists. This compilation, like the 15-year catalog it samples, is as much short-story collection as it is song set; it’s the perfect introduction to the band’s Lynyrd Skynyrd-style triple-guitar brawls. If country music is, as Harlan Howard put it, “three chords and the truth,” these guys are some kinda sweat-stained saints.
Listen to “Ronnie and Neil”:
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