Drivin' South: Southern Rockin' Smash Hits

As you can tell from its cheesy, less-than-subtle cover photo, this isn't an especially classy or well-thought-out compilation. Not to be confused with the similarly conceived Goin' South, Essential Southern Rock, Harley Davidson Southern Rock Road Songs, or Southern Fried Rock, all of which cover the same basic territory but do it better since they have the advantage of picking from multiple labels, this meager 14-track collection selects obvious artists chosen exclusively from the Sony catalog into a slapdash, male-oriented, guitar rock sampler that seems to have been as long in the making as its skimpy 55-minute playing time and non-existent liner notes indicate. There's nothing particularly wrong with the cuts here and the compilers actually unearth a few gems with an obscure Delaney & Bonnie & Friends track and a fiery Dickey Betts Band tune. But adding drippy contributions from Willie Nelson and the New Riders of the Purple Sage only dilutes the effect. The disc is already hamstrung by an over-reliance on tired fare like Charlie Daniels' "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" and Mountain's "Mississippi Queen," both of which were already played out, even in this genre, having appeared on countless collections before turning up yet again on this set. Unless you need an album immediately for your drive down south and this is the only one available, there is no reason to buy this lackluster set over the abundance of far better compiled and annotated discs in the same male-dominated Southern guitar rock category. ~ Hal Horowitz

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