DIESEL SMOKE, DANGEROUS CURVES - PIONEERS OF TRUCKING MUSIC IN THE USA (2CD)
GVC (GVC2041)Red Fox Chasers, Fats Waller, Blind Boy Fuller, Delmore Brothers, Speedy West, Bob Williams, Bob Newman, Jimmy Boyd, Cliff Bruner, Willie Nix, Gene Crabb, Link Davis, Willie Nix, Art Gibson, Coleman Wilson, Terry Fell & many more...
This 40 track collection is a hugely enjoyable introduction to the rise of the trucking song in America, from the late 1920s/early 1930s up until the late 1950s/early 1960s.
The notes to this set suggest that the rise of this type of song arose from the explosion of freight traffic on the roads and highways of America during these years, and the sheer numbers of people employed in driving commercial trucks for a living. Somebody, somewhere had the bright idea of recording songs about truck drivers for truck drivers and it all seemed to balloon from there.
Whatever the reason, it has left us with a treasure trove of great music celebrating, romanticising and transforming what must have been a fairly mundane reality into a melodramatic and intoxicating fictional odyssey. The songs that feature here are (for the most part) essentially small story vignettes of life on the open road and the truck stops that service it - full of fuel, food, strong coffee, jukeboxes and waitresses with ‘Maxwell House eyes and marmalade thighs with scrambled yellow hair’ (sorry, I have co-opted this description from a Tom Waits lyric elsewhere but it seems to fit nicely here!)
Most of the selected sides come from the emergent country and hillbilly music sounds of the period and feature many of its big selling artists and tracks as well as lesser-known acts and less familiar material. The title of this set is a classic of its type, with two versions included here; one by Doye O’Dell, the other by Billy Strange and both are sensational. Another of the better known tracks is Hank Snow’s blistering I've Been Everywhere, another of numerous highlights to enjoy time and time again.
Not all of the tracks included however are from the hillbilly or country music tradition or indeed are their references of trucking related particularly (if at all) to the vehicular kind. Fats Waller’sTruckin' is a typically enjoyably city jazz celebration of a new form of dance craze. And Blind Boy Fuller clearly has other activities in mind to cheer himself along than driving around in a truck on his fabulous country blues calling card,Truckin' My Blues Away.
None of this of course either compromises or detracts from the enjoyment on offer in this marvellous set. Some music you listen to because you feel it is culturally enriching, enlightening or consciousness-raising. Other music you just listen to because it delivers on sheer entertainment and enjoyability. And there isn’t anything that comes to mind as entertaining and enjoyable as this CD right now.
So put on your best check shirt, slip a Yorkie bar (other chocolate brands are available) into your breast pocket and insert this CD into your car - you are about to hit the wide open road!
Review Date: June 2015