38 Special Drivetrain CMC/Sanctuary Records
Produced By: 38 Special

Running Time: 55.05

Release Date: Out Now

Released: US

Musical Style: Melodic Hard Rock

Links: 38 Special Sanctuary Records
Songs: 75%
Sound: 85%
38 Special have thrown down the challenge to fans and have come out rocking on their first studio album since 1997's Resolution.
I'm not getting into this album as much as I thought I would, but it's still a solid rocking affair. I don't find myself being naturally drawn back to it, despite a heavy rotation in order to write this review. It's more an album to be put on when the mood takes you.
Overall, I don't think the songs have the passion and all the memorable 38 Special traits required to grab the listener. That's even more surprising to me, as the great Jim Peterik is involved in co-writing 7 of the album's tracks.
Much like Rick Springfield's Shock Denial Anger Acceptance album, this rocks big time with a slightly updated feel and like Rick, the guys have recorded what is probably the heaviest album of their career. But also like Rick's last album, some of the heart and soul has been left behind.
Now, that all said, Drivetrain is a raw, stripped to the bone rocker. Keep that in mind, forget about what the band should sound like, concentrate on what they do sound like and you will be far more satisfied with this album that really does rock.
Track By Track:
The opener Something I Need and the single Hurts Like Love set up the record really well and prove the band can rock along with the best of them. Two great tracks that if emulated throughout the rest of the record, would have made this a classic.
The gruff rocker Harley's Got A Harley doesn't do as much for me, I feel it is missing a great hook and a little passion.
Jam On is slightly better, this track has a chorus hook to hang on to.
Make Some Sense Of It sees the guys starting back towards their more natural sound and is another gem and one of the best tracks of the album.
Quick Fix is another tough and gruff track, and again misses a better hook. The Squeeze is much the same although, I do rather like the swagger and attitude the track exuberates.
The Play is a track that has a nice melodic lead in and a soulful lead vocal, however I still don't think the chorus does the song justice.
Bad Looks Good On You is another track I can't warm to, although it's an ok slice of rock with a southern swagger.
Trooper With An Attitude is probably the most southern styled song and rocks along more like ZZ Top than classic 38 Special. A solid guitar riff and one fans will enjoy I think.
Hiding From Yourself is probably my pick of the album this is more along the lines of classic Don Barnes AOR and certainly closer to the 80's 38 Special than any other track here.
Sheriff's County Line is a slow moving track to start, but picks up pace as the song goes on, but without ever reaching a true peak.
The Bottom Line
I am a fan of this band I am guessing some will read this and dismiss it as from someone who isn't a fan. But check my collection and you will see CDs of Resolution, Tour De Force, Strength In Numbers, Rock & Roll Strategy and Bone Against Steel.
While I am glad to see the guys rocking and enjoyed it for what it is, in the long run I just don't find this album as appealing as their past work. I am one that always looks forward to and presses for bands to release new albums, but in this case I have found myself wishing to indulge in a past classic.
Recent Discography / Previously Reviewed
38 Special
Special Delivery
Rockin' Into The Night
Wild-Eyed Southern Boys
Special Forces
Tour De Force
Strength In Numbers
Flashback: Best Of
Rock & Roll Strategy
Bone Against Steel
Live At Sturgis
A Wild-Eyed Christmas Night

Line Up
Donnie Van Zant: Vocals
Don Barnes: Vocals, Guitar
Gary Moffatt: Drums
Larry (LJ) Junstrom: Bass
Danny Chauncey: Guitars, Keyboards
Bobby Capps: Keyboards

Essential for fans of:
38 Special
Van Zant
Track Listing
Something I Need*
Hurts Like Love*
Haley's Got A Harley
Jam On
Make Some Sense Of It*
Quick Fix
The Squeeze
The Play
Bad Looks Good On You
Trooper With An Attitude
Hiding From Yourself*
Sheriff's County Line
--*Best Tracks

18/02/06: mark -
Rating: 12
Boy how I do long for the past 38 style. Sorry boys but this is bad. Look, 38 has changed their style time and time again. They do try hard to be liked. Now as I think of myself I can't see why a band would change their style all the time. Why do you think we who grew up listening to the old stuff still love the old stuff. Bring back Southern Rock.........Sorry Donnie, have to say tho you are the nicest S. Rocker I've ever met in person.

24/08/05: fin boy - -
Rating: 89
Well, 38 special. Southern rock band ? Maybe their first five records but middle 0f 80's not, maybe more aor and pop than southern rock. This album ? hard drivin rock and it's suprise me totally, hurts like love,sheriff county line, trooper with an attitude for example, they guys do what they wanna do and can't wait what happened next record.
Sad that it has sell only 13000 copies, totally not what they deserve!

03/09/04: Steve -
Rating: 82
All in all i like this cd! I got tired of the mellow stuff they were putting out on Strength in numbers , special forces. Leave the 80's in the 80's!!! It's not as if every song on wild eyed southern boys & special forces were all great!! 3or 4 good songs the others forgetable! Much better than the boring resolution cd! The song you make bad look good is killer..........

01/09/04: Bob Gerszewski -
Rating: 74
It would be hard to add anything more to Andrew's perfect review (every word) of this disc, or to James Tate's or Charlie's review. 80's 38 fans will be polarized by this cd, but it does sound like they do live and I also agree they are trying to make up for going softer in sound on Resolution. Resolution had some AWESOME songs, but didn't crank out the volume. An overall sound like on the Wild Eyed Christmas Night album was the direction I was hoping for on this cd and it didn't quite have the polish of that excellent cd. Wild Eyed Christmas Night is one of the best 38 Special songs bar none.

I think these guys really wanted to toughen their sound and well, they did. Now, hopefully, with this out of their system, they will get back to making catchy rock pop songs, like Wild Eyed Christmas Night.

One comment, the musicianship on this CD IS fantastic. Danny Chauncey's guitar is awesome. LJ is perhaps the steadiest bass player I've heard. Don Barnes voice howls and even Donnie VZ turns it up.

But guys, at some point, to get 'the sound' may be time to convince Jeff Carlisi to return along with the 'guitar harmonies' having another axe brings. That southern / country sounding guitar harmony is what the fans remember as well as the gritty hard edge.

I for one thought Max Carl's time in 38 Special was good, even if some of the Bone Against Steel songs were too A/C I find them to be quite listenable in comparison to some of this stuff. Max brought an element to the band that is still missing since the late eighties. Too bad Max, Don and Donnie couldn't all three share the front.

Summary: hard to listen to initially, getting used to it, yes its RAW and HARD, the songs or sound don't really resemble ANY era of 38 Special that much. If you spend some time digesting it, you will warm up to it. But as Andrew said, you may find yourself going and reaching for one of the past catalog titles to listen to instead.

By the way, close your eyes while listening to 'Hurts Like Love' and 'Jam On' and TELL ME these songs weren't Jim Peterik reminiscing about his Survivor days because those songs were SO WRITTEN for Jimi Jamison its not even funny!

24/08/04: Ben -
Rating: 75
It has taken me forever to warm up to this album. For me it was similar to the time when Max Carl joined 38 in the early 90's. It changed their sound bigtime and, at the time, was not what I wanted to hear. For Drivetrain the band has decided to sound like this either because it is exactly what they have always wanted to do or they had to due to the rougher voice of Don Barnes. I recently saw them live and could not help but notice that Don can no longer hit the high notes on If I'd Been The One or Back Where You Belong. He depends more than ever on the background vocals of Chauncey and Capps. Anyway, new Drivetrain songs like Haley's Got A Harley and Trooper With An Attitude do nothing for me. Other songs like The Play and Jam On do rock but will never be radio hits. This album was/is being promoted as being "greasy" and as having "rude guitars" which I suppose it does but I sure miss the hooks and a huge sing-a-long chorus.

21/08/04: stone88 -
Rating: 85
It's raw and it rocks, but it doesn't sound like traditional 38 Special which is probably because Jeff Carlisi is no longer with the band. My favorites are Something You Need, Hurts Like Love, The Squeeze, Make Some Sense Of It, Trooper With A Attitude and Hiding From Yourself. A step up from Resloution, but I hope Jeff comes back and we get a more melodic release next time. Still I like the raw sound and thumbs up to the guys for still rockin' after all these years.

09/08/04: McDaddy -
Rating: 98
Of course, this CD is not what fans of the 80's pop expect. But I think that's a good thing! Why keep hammering the same old same old? In their live shows, these guys have shown they can kick ass with the best of them, then they turn around and put that energy on tape. I'm sure they got tired of writing cute pop songs and wanted to get down and dirty one time. I like that attitude! Throw away your preconceived notions of what, in your mind, they SHOULD be playing and listen to this album as if it was a new band coming on the scene. Bluesy, raunchy, greasy. It's awesome! IT WILL ROCK YOU!

08/08/04: Scott Watson -
Rating: 85
No a bad cd. It's not Rockin' Into The Night, Wild-Eyed Southern Boys, or Special Forces. Drive train is definetly there hardest rocking album to date. It reminds me more of Lynyrd Skynyrd's latest cd Vicious Cycle. I've been a fan since 79. I guess I'm just getting used to band doing what they want, ie, Heart, Boston, and now 38 Special.

07/08/04: Hooper H -
Rating: 85
Unlike many of the reviews here, I was very pleased with the new 38 Special. Actually, I was hoping for less sappy ballads and a harder, rocking edge that these guys deliver in concert and previously before the Top 40/MTV trap caught them. They came real close to meeting my expectations. I recommend this for the old 38 Special fans of Wild Eyes and before. After a number of listens, there really isn't a song on here that I would throw out of the mix. Some don't do it for me, but overall, I am thrilled and hope this is a direction that continues.

07/08/04: Danny Forrest -
Rating: 75
I'm a big 38 special fan and I have to agree 100% with your review. I'm very dissapointed, almost as disapointed as I was with Boston's Corporate America. The album has a rocking edge, but there's nothing here for the fans of Caught Up in You, Hold on Loosely, or their other classic hits. Waiting 10 years for this one and let down again. At least the guys are putting on great concerts after all these years.

07/08/04: James Tate -
Rating: 80
I must start off with the best song on the CD. Hiding From Yourself is a Donnie Van Zant sung song and it by far the best song on the CD.With just a little tweek it would have fit on any classic 38 Special album. ok, i bought the cd and it is in a total different direction and sound. while you still have the core sound that made up the 38 Special sound, everything else is changed. Gone are the pop/aor hooks and smooth polished production of the 80's and it is replaced with a much more raw and unproduced sound. The cd sounds like they do live, which has it pro's and con's. While the Van Zant songs stay more true to the past, The Barnes songs are much more raw. The songs will not win any pop fans over. They are totaly different from songs such as Caught Up In You and Back Where You Belong. They are a bit "fuzzed up" in the vocals and guitars.
My take is how laid back Resolution was, they tried to make up for it with this cd. While it is growing on me, I'm starting to like what i hear. The Van Zant songs caught my attention first and more of the Barnes songs are coming along.
My big compaint is that they put two older songs on the disc. The Squeeze was a song they put out when Don came back to the band back in the mid 90's. And Trooper With An Attitude, a song they did a few years ago from the movie Super Troopers. They re-recorded these songs and my opinion was that they sounded better in the original form. They could have thrown in two new songs and put these songs as a bonus on so many new releases as a limited run or something. It just bothers me because i have both of them and i know that most fans would have never even of heard these songs but at a show so a can see the reason for them being on the cd but i still don't like getting two songs i already had.

06/08/04: Charlie -
Rating: 43
Having been a fan since about 79 I was syched to get this one, needless to say I was not thrilled by the disc AT ALL. The only songs that seem like the band I grew up on are "Make Some Sense Of It" and "The Squeeze" (The Squeeze sounds like old 38 because it is, the song was on an EP they used to sell at shows in the early 90's)and since the song "Trooper With An Attitude" is from the movie "Super Troopers" it has an old feel to it. I'm not saying that I only like their old sound because I thought "Resolution" was one of their best discs yet. This CD is a huge letdown after waiting since 97' for new music from The WESB's. Stick with the rest of their Catalog even their Christmas CD which is in my CD changer most days is much better. I am going to a show in N.H. with 38 Special and Skynyrd I can't wait to listen to the boys again I only hope they stick with their good stuff and skip the songs from this one. One final note Donnie and Johnnie Van Zants dad Lacy passed away August 3rd may he rest in peace.

06/08/04: Frank W. Lovre -
Rating: 0
Over all I think that the album is very good with some great 38 songs mingeled inbetween. I absolutly love "The Squeeze". The groove / guitar riff is pure 38. "Trooper..." is another song that just has endless possibilities. I bought it the first day out and I'm still cracking it up a week later. Looking forward to seeing the live show in Orlando on 8-15-04.

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