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Articles Home » 2004 Articles » 38 Special - 2004 Drive Train
38 Special - 2004 Drive Train

ARTIST: 38 Special
ALBUM: Drive Train
LABEL: Sanctuary
SERIAL: 06076 84696-2
YEAR: 2004


LINEUP: Donnie Van Zant - vocals * Don Barnes - guitars * Danny Chauncey - guitars, keyboards * Larry Junstrom - bass * Gary Moffatt - drums * Bobby Capps - keyboards

TRACK LISTING: 01 Something I Need * 02 Hurt Like Love * 03 Haleys Got A Harley * 04 Jam On * 05 Make Some Sense Of It * 06 Quick Fix * 07 The Squeeze * 08 The Play * 09 Bad Looks Good On You * 10 Trooper With An Attitude * 11 Hidin' From Yourself


Despite a heavy touring schedule every year, new studio albums from 38 Special have become a rarity, the last two being 1991's excellent 'Bone Against Steel' and 1997's 'Resolution'. The lineup has remained stable, all the members from 'Resolution' still present, Van Zant and Barnes of course the surviving original members from 1977's self titled debut, while Chauncey and Junstrom both joined in the 80's. This longevity is almost unheard of these days, but it certainly lends a polished edge to the bands performance. In 2004 the band has left behind much of the AOR that defined their career, opting for a harder rock direction that was a factor in their more Southern days of the 70's. This album has a late 80's vibe, that evokes Molly Hatchet's 'Lightning Strikes Twice', hardly sounding like an album recorded in 2004. That can only be a positive sign, but it doesn't necessarily make for a consistent album, even with Jim Peterik co-writing.

The Songs
'Something I Need' is one of the finer tracks, the band crossing over between horn and piano infused southern rock to an accessible chorus that might fit on country radio. 'Hurts Like Love' opens like prime Coverdale-Page, with Van Zant doing his best Coverdale deep throated impersonation, but develops rather heavily with a brief fast passage that shows how heavy the band can be when they choose. The ludicrously titled 'Haley's Got A Harley' is an ode to the yearly Sturgis Motorcycle Festival which the band has played at, but sadly is unmelodic and forgettable. 'Jam On' is an anthem designed for world unity, sounding like late 80's party rock, particularly in the chanted chorus. There's a slight return to the bands melodic heyday of the 80's itself in the melody of 'Make Some Sense Of It', but I can't get past the stodgy structure that seems to promote slowness over a real sense of energy. Filler is apparent in 'Quick Fix' and 'The Squeeze', where the band runs short of melody, so much so that after multiple listens neither seems familiar to my ears. 'Bad Looks Good On You' is humorous in it's dated but enjoyable 'naughty' leanings, while 'Trooper With An Attitude' finally offers a tear-up amidst the predictable mid paced bludgeon. The AOR side isn't forgotten, 'Hiding From Yourself' easily the high point, with a consistent chorus which begs the question why not more? I could live without the Beatles harmonies at the 2:40 mark though....'Sheriff's County Line' sounds like a Southern burner, but is depressingly morose in tone, heavy but far too ordinary, standard rock with no special ingredients.

In Summary
'Drive Train' is a considerable letdown with scant highlights that earn it the tag of 'shelved indefinitely'. Only on 'Hiding From Yourself' is there anything that would hint at wanting to explore this album again, and to nobody's surprise it's the lone AOR track. 38 Special concentrated on making a pure hard rock album here and it's unwittingly their downfall. The creativity runs dry early on, and this could easily have been an eight track album. According to the band they recorded over thirty songs and decided 'to drop some of the lighter ones because they didn't fit the attitude of the album'. A mistake? If you're going to make an all-out rock album at least provide some dynamics to mix it up. 'Drive Train' ends up as one big endless song.

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#1 | Jez on June 16 2008 03:49:23
A much more live,beefed up sound compared to the last few releases, which did take a bit of getting used to at first, but ultimately serves it very well throughout. Now that i have spun it a few times, nearly all the tracks have planted themselves in the memory bank. A great release and one that will be still spinning come the years end and in the future.
#2 | gdazegod on May 27 2012 13:33:38
It's an interesting album, in that the band cast off the 80's sheen and veneer for something resembling their true origins. Like a snake shedding skin... A band riding with the changes for sure..
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