There are those select few bands, select few albums throughout my life that I have listened to, that I can say – resonates with me. Drivin N Cryin is one of those bands and their 1993 album – Smoke, (on Island Records). I confess, I never owned a copy of Smoke until October 14, 2009. Unbelievable, how great Rock Music can slip by you. I have vindicated this slip-up by now taking ownership of this great album… finding it on CD during one of my many thrift store Hard Rock and Metal hunts. Rock diversity is a strong point with Drivin N Cryin, their talent to create credible and memorable songs are sensationally a musical characteristic. Smoke is a Rock meets Hard Rock album that even upon it’s initial 1993 release, can be construed as a throwback – to the days when writing Rock songs wasn’t about a race to the commercial finish line. After three consecutive and thorough listens to Smoke on Wednesday, all I could think about that night was listening to Smoke on Thursday! For me, this album is that good… I mean great.
Drivin N Cryin does bring back a very cool Rock memory for me. I saw Drivin N Cryin open up for the ultra legendary – The Who. This concert was at the Meadows Music Theater in Hartford, Connecticut, I think the year was around 1997. (Heck, I cannot remember the exact year). My wife and best buddy Scott were with me for this unreal great night of Rock and Roll. We did not know upon entering this outdoor amphitheater that Drivin N Cryin were opening for The Who that night… we were beyond thrilled when Drivin N Cryin hit the stage, they were simply put – tremendous. I will always remember that night, for Metal sakes, it was The Who taking center stage after all! However, Drivin N Cryin was the Hard Rock bonus that was so unexpected that evening… an unbelievable bonus it was!
There is no hiding from the fact that I uphold Metal Music and I am a Metalhead, with that said, I also uphold quality Rock and Hard Rock Music as well. Drivin N Cryin enables me to embrace their songs through their vivid musicianship and clarity of their lyrics. With Smoke, there are no illusions going on, no flamboyant and over the ropes attitudes to be heard, just straight -up Rock Music that hits home for me. The first three songs, Back Against The Wall, She Doesn’t Wanna Go and Smoke on Smoke are a 1-2-3 Hard Rock can of whoop ass. 1000 Swings and 1988 are by far cool Rockers as well. Whiskey Soul Woman is just one incredible Rock song to cruise to, it has a Classic Rock vibe swirling all around. When You Come Back is a laid back, Blues Rockin’ song that shows just how diverse Drivin N Cryin can be with Rock. Patron Lady Beautiful can be justified as an epic Rock song for Drivin N Cryin, at 7:36 it plays out with the Rock mellowness that I need to hear every so often and takes it’s twists and turns with Hard Rock heaviness – in real Classic Rock style. What’s The Difference and Eastern European Carny Man has some Tom Petty influence happening, both vocally and musically, not a bad influence for my ears to hear at all.
My favorite song on Smoke, (if I am forced to choose), has to be Turn It Up Or Turn It Off… this is a Hard Rock Classic for me, man these guys jam on this song. There is a hidden track on Smoke, right after the last song, therefore there are really thirteen songs on this album. This hidden song has Classic Rock oozing from it’s every crevice, with the guitars giving way to 1970′s style licks that are beyond cool for me. When it is all said and done, quality Rock musicianship and vocals will always save the day and stay relevant for decades on end. Drivin N Cryin is just this band, extremely credible song writing and musicianship and Rockin’ to this very day. I really dig the vocals of Kevin Kinney, he is at his unreal best on Smoke. I most highly recommend Drivin N Cryin and all of their music to any fan of Rock, Classic Rock and Hard Rock. Smoke turned out to be a hidden Rock gem for me, sending me off to Hard Rock bliss.
* I have not seen this CD for sale on Best Buy online, I have seen it for sale at Amazon.com, as recent as today.
Drivin N Cryin as they appeared on Smoke:
Kevin Kinney - vocals and guitar
Tim Nielsen – bass
Jeff Sullivan - drums
Buren Fowler - lead guitar