Road Trip Rock

I suspect that many of you will be on the road this weekend. Since you'll be dealing with the frustrations of high gas prices and traffic, it's very important to have good tunes lined up. Here are five albums I plan on listening to at unsafe volume while driving to Pittsburgh, where I'll put myself through the torture of watching the Pirates lose a couple of games. Got any favorite driving albums? Feel free to share in the comments.

The Hold Steady - Separation Sunday Definitely my driving album of choice in recent years. Maybe that's not a good thing, though. I get so pumped listening to it and "singing" along with Craig Finn that I turn into a somewhat aggressive, impatient driver. So if you see someone weaving through lanes slightly above the speed limit (the Elantra only has so much pep) while shouting like a crazy person, that's probably me.

Clipse - Hell Hath No Fury
This album just keeps getting better and is an ideal hip-hop driving album. No skits, no filler tracks, a manageable number of guest spots. The Elantra's sound system doesn't deal well with big bass, but it does well enough with this one.

Creedence Clearwater Revival - Chronicle
I highly recommend this one if you're driving to the beach. As you get closer to the shore and the air becomes heavier and the humidity gets thicker, the swampiness of the tunes will feel all the more appropriate. If I could make one edit to the album, though, I'd ditch the 11-minute version of "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" for the not quite as long but plenty more rockin' and still plenty jammy "Ramble Tamble."

Silver Jews - American Water
I'll be embarking at dusk for one part of my trip and I can't think of a better sunset album. But I can't really think of a better anything album, of course. Stay tuned for an onslaught of Silver Jews coverage next month.

Grateful Dead - Winterland 1973
Serious Deadheads can make this 9-disc set last for more than a few long, strange trips since its run time is more than 10 hours. I can do without the 21-minute version of "Playing With the Band" or those interminable space jams. But when the band sticks to actual songs and keeps the jamming manageable, it's ideal cruising music, even for those of us that don't have one of those stupid dancing bear bumper stickers.

By David Malitz |  May 22, 2008; 11:50 AM ET Lists
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Chuck Brown, "Your Game: Live at the 9:30 Club." The beat never stops. It helped get me from PNC to Breezewod, PA after a Pirates game a few years ago.

Have a great trip! PNC is awesome.

Posted by: Lindemann | May 22, 2008 12:44 PM

I prefer the CCR studio albums to Chronicle. Nice to hear the good songs not subjected to radio overkill. Ramble Tamble is Exhibit A for this argument - a great song.

Other suggestions:

Tom Petty - Full Moon Fever. Heck, any good Petty album would do.

R.E.M. - Lifes Rich Pageant. Their most road-worthy album.

The Clash - London Calling. Or Sandinista! if you really need to kill time and don't mind the seriously weird songs on Disc 2.

The Rolling Stones - Exile on Main Street. A virtual travelogue of American music culture. Funny that it took a few Brits to create it.

Bruce Springsteen - The River. The Boss. Cars. Girls. Two discs of life's ups and downs, with melodies to match. Any questions?

Posted by: SSMD | May 22, 2008 1:29 PM

This might sound like the opposite of what you're getting at, but GOOD talk radio usually keeps me enthralled during long car trips. I just throw on the latest episodes from Howard Stern, and it feels like i'm in a full conversation for 4 hours. Entertaining and keeps you awake...

As far as music goes...

Pavement's "Crooked Rain" has always been a standby for long trips. I have it so internalized by now that i can just sing along with every word and have a huge smile on my face the whole time.

Similar situation goes for "Ruby Vroom" by Soul Coughing. It plays through perfectly. Has entertaining music AND lyrics, and just lends itself to putting your foot to the gas.

Last, if i'm tired and need to make sure that my dumb ass stays awake...i'll throw on "Calculating Infinite" by the Dillinger Escape Plan. It is absolutely impossible to fall asleep while that album is playing.

Posted by: Ben W. | May 22, 2008 1:39 PM

Slim Whitman sounds good coming out of an Elantra.

Posted by: Vincey | May 22, 2008 1:54 PM

thats what made them so good, the exploratory jams, your such a fool. This paper has great writers abound, but somehow they hired a guy who used to work at tower records to be there music writer. And I say that term loosely. Its like calling yourself a steelers fans but never watching the entire game, only watching the highlights on sportscenter... idiot

Posted by: GD | May 22, 2008 2:36 PM

The last good road-trip surprise I had was Dog Problems by The Format. Downloaded it from eMusic after reading some rave reviews and played it while driving from Richmond to Laurel. Kind of eclectic, clever lyrics and arrangements, and I replayed it as soon as it ended.

Also, Sara Bareilles' "Little Voice" is a good driving CD, as is Jamiroquai's "Traveling Without Moving."

Posted by: 23112 | May 22, 2008 2:48 PM

Silver Jews, that's a Pavement side project right?

But seriously - First 3 1/2 Superdrag albums, first Cars album (obvious, but still great for drivin'), any Fugazi, and both Go! Team albums are good for keeping the head bopping.

Also, Urlich Schnauss is a good soundtrack for pretty sunsets.

I've found Liars albums make me drive like a maniac and it probably doesn't help that I'm shouting along "blood blood blood" as well.

Posted by: MN | May 22, 2008 3:25 PM

My driving album of choice lately has been Gaslight Anthem - Sink or Swim. Such a good album.

Posted by: Dan | May 22, 2008 3:59 PM

I agree, Sara Bareilles "Little Voice" is a great driving album.

I also recommend both Gnarls Barkley albums; Grace Potter & the Nocturnals "This is Somewhere"; Eve 6's first album (guilty pleasure); Fall Out Boy "From Under the Cork Tree" (another guilty pleasure); and Ingrid Michaelson "Boys & Girls." And sooo many others...

Posted by: msto | May 22, 2008 4:32 PM

"thats what made them so good, the exploratory jams, your such a fool. This paper has great writers abound, but somehow they hired a guy who used to work at tower records to be there music writer."

Knowing nothing about the Dead's oeuvre and reading this comment, I instantly agree with Malitz.

Posted by: Lindemann | May 22, 2008 6:33 PM

I am in agreement with those that said Crooked Rain & London Calling. Those 2 are always on my long drive list. As are:

Built to Spill - Keep It Like A Secret
Wilco - Being There
Beastie Boys - Pauls Boutique
Modest Mouse - We Were Dead...
Hold Steady - Boys And Girls...
REM - Reckoning

Posted by: AnotherEngine | May 22, 2008 6:44 PM

Hey SSMD, I feel ya when it comes to CCR and the hits but that's one band where I just don't get sick of the hits. Also, those albums are just so short. I'm a huge fan of the short album, but when you're driving it can be a bit of a hassle. I had a Maxell XLII cassette of "Chronicle" that I filled out with some choice album cuts, so I got the best of both worlds. Ah, cassettes. I sorta miss them.

Posted by: David | May 22, 2008 7:33 PM


I miss cassettes as well :-)

But in the CD burning age, you can put two short CCR albums on one CD-R. Definitely worth doing for a long road trip.

All of my road discs are CD-R. I don't want to risk damage to the originals.

Posted by: SSMD | May 23, 2008 9:13 AM

GD, i agree with you on the dead, but you sound like a d--k.

Posted by: stavros | May 23, 2008 10:31 AM

Wow GD, way to sound like the stereotypical moronic Dead fan.

Malitz is right, of course--when they actually played concise, well-written songs the Dead were a pretty fine band. But their ridiculous, endless noodlings were all too often boring, interminable garbage. And this is coming from someone who tried to like the Dead.

And I'll second whoever mentioned London Calling--by far the greatest driving album I've ever heard (in addition to containing a far greater version of the Stagger Lee tale than that recorded by our hippie friends from the Bay.) Born to Run deserves a mention too, even if it is an obvious choice.

Posted by: Adam | June 5, 2008 3:01 PM

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