Ladies and gentlemen, country music is in the midst of an existential crisis due to the derivative nature of modern country music lyrics found in these radio singles that obsess over trucks and tailgates to an alarming degree. Something really should be done to stave off this shallow and repetitive trend of truck songs, and … Oh wait, we’re talking about trucking songs? We’ll then shit, in the immortal words of Ronnie Van Zandt, “Turn it up…”
If your hat is mesh and your right foot heavy, and if you consider Red Sovine and Dave Dudley just as much country music Gods as Willie and Waylon, then the Franklin County Trucking Company is right for you. No, we’re not talking about a fulfillment business with a yard full of Peterbilt’s idling away ready to facilitate all your commercial freight needs, we’re talking about a country music outfit that specializes in delivering country trucking songs with a high-powered Benzedrine kick.
A supergroup of sorts, the Franklin County Trucking Company consists of guitar player Jim Rotramel and drummer Taylor Sphere from the slicked-back rockabilly outfit The Number 9 Blacktops, the infamous Eddie Spaghetti, of, well, Eddie Spaghetti and the Supersuckers of course, Sean Hopkins from Kentucky-based band Dallas Alice, and in this particular incarnation, the incomparable Col. J. D. Wilkes of Th’ Legendary Shack Shakers who shows up to blow some harp and pack an even bigger wallop behind this effort.
Specializing in trucking songs and trucking songs only, The Further Adventures of the Franklin County Trucking Company is one hell of a fun time, running through a handful of new original country music trucking songs they hope to cement as classics of the subgenre, along with a couple of timeless and recognizable trucking tunes, namely Eddie Rabbitt’s excellent “Driving My Life Away,” and “Willin'” by Little Feat. These standards are done anew and like never before from the punk rock attitude the Franklin Country Trucking Company puts into their take on trucking songs.
As fun as the covers are, what you pull off the highway and hang a left for is Franklin County originals like “Dodgin’ Scales,” “Time Is Money,” and “T-R-U-C-K-S-T-O-P.” This band is for those times you tell the family you have to head for the hardware store for a spare part, and go screaming down the road with the windows down, shouting along to the lyrics to blow off steam, or have a seven hour road trip starring you in the face, and need something to help keep the hammer down. Yeah, all the heartfelt and meaningful country music that has set such a high bar in 2019 has been great, but sometimes you just want to let loose, and not feel stupid for doing it. The songs are fun, but the songwriting here is still smart and gratifying, and even finds a bit of sentimental storytelling in the song “Perryville, Missouri.”
Some wondered when watching the recent 16 1/2-hour Ken Burns documentary on country music how the long and storied history of country trucking songs didn’t make the cut. From C.W. McCall, to Red Simpson and Dick Curless, to Del Reeves and Commander Cody, and even to more modern artists like Dale Watson and Bob Wayne, songs for and about truckers are almost as important as songs about drinking and heartache in country music history, and help set country music’s blue collar cred.
The Franklin County Trucking Company resurrects this important trucking song tradition, and revitalizes it with a rock n’ roll edge in a really enjoyable record that will get you falling back down the trucking songs rabbit hole for months to come, cranking old tunes from Jerry Reed, begging your wife to let you install a CB in the family station wagon, and working on a left arm tan.
Damn fun record.
1 3/4 Smokestacks Up (8/10)
– – – – – – – – – –