Pantera experimented with thrash, death metal and even swinging, bluesy grooves on their eclectic 1996 LP, The Great Southern Trendkill, and a new reissue of the album will show how they arrived at that sound. A bonus disc will contain instrumental versions of songs, live recordings from the Dynamo Festival in 1998 and alternate early mixes.
One of these early mixes is “Drag the Waters,” the cowbell-inflected second single the group released from the LP. Where the final mix showcased a thicker guitar sound around Dimebag Darrell’s solo, the rough mix sounds more claustrophobic, with sounds stepping on top of each other, and you can hear a little Phil Anselmo croak at the end of the track.
“I wrote the lyrics about a buddy of mine who was getting married,” Phil Anselmo tells Rolling Stone. “The young lady he was gonna marry sucked. She was some asshole judge’s daughter, and she came from this high-and-mighty household. I believe I had a heart-to-heart with him about her and said, ‘You might wanna drag the waters with that one, there’s bodies – she’s ruined – in there.’ Hence, upon remembrance, I wrote the lyrics.”
“Remembering back on this track, Dime had brought this simple opening riff into our new studio,” bassist Rex Brown says. “As we all started jamming on this, Riggs – [drummer] Vinnie Paul’s nickname – had a cool syncopated beat for the verses and I think Dime and I came up with the pre. We nailed it in a couple of takes and then ol’ Riggs decided to put, of all things, a cowbell on the opening riff.”
“‘Drag the Waters’ had a great groove with a cool turn-around and was the most Zeppelin-influenced track we ever wrote,” Paul says. “We only played it live two times.”
“It was definitely one of those tracks that we never thought would be the first single, but lo and behold, it was on top of every Top 10 metal radio outlet at that time,” Brown continues. “But it still holds a fond memory. And a funny one, at that.”
The two-disc 20th anniversary edition of The Great Southern Trendkill, which features the album remastered and includes rare photos and new liner notes, will come out on October 21st. The band is also putting out the vinyl-only The Great Southern Outtakes, which features 10 unreleased tracks.