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3. Pink Floyd – Animals: Like Neurosis, I think just about any of Pink Floyd’s albums are well suited for traveling. Each of their albums is so carefully arranged and produced that moving from first song to last is a rewarding and enlightening experience. But 1977’s Animals proves to be my favorite for the road. In just 5 tracks Pink Floyd builds some of the most powerful metaphors of their career on this unique concept album. Each song points to the animal in man, whether it be a dog, pig or sheep. Animals begins and ends with the short and simple acoustic “Pigs on the Wing” parts one and two, only to unleash the full creative potential of these four progressive rock veterans on the 3 tracks they encase. David Gilmour’s superb soloing on “Dogs” will effortlessly carry you halfway from Washington DC to Baltimore before you even realize what’s happening. “Pigs (3 Different Ones)” is a classic Pink Floyd epic with organ and guitar building up to Roger Water’s chant of “Ha ha charade you are” as he berates corporate and political greed and you berate the SUV that just cut you off. Sheep begins with Richard Wright’s soft, almost jazzy keyboard work which climaxes into what is easily the most driving song on the album. Samples of bleating sheep fit almost perfectly with rush hour traffic, and in the 10 minutes this song takes from beginning to end you’re likely to move your car forward at least once.
2. Jurassic 5 – Power In Numbers: When the trip starts to get long, road rage has your blood boiling, and the mellow voice of Roger Waters is not enough to keep you from shutting your eyes and hitting those rumble strips, I have only one solution. Jurassic 5 continue to be one of the driving forces in underground hip-hop, rivaling much of the generic radio-friendly bling bling rap in sheer popularity. Power In Numbers demonstrates some of the finest positive conscious hip-hip that these 4 MC’s have ever created as always with the help of DJ’s Cut Chemist and Nu-Mark. Bobbing your head and singing along to “I Am Somebody” can help cure even the worst case of highway stop-and-go hopelessness. Every song on this album is a perfect pairing of lyrics and music that refuses to let you sit still. Hearing Soup over the infectious bass line of “A Day At the Races” rap “Hit it, like operation Push / Operate the tush / Black octopus of soul” gives me a jolt of energy every time. And the straight jam “Acetate Prophets” closes the album with enough instrumental energy to make you want to pull over and start the dance party. Power In Numbers brings all the rumble your car will ever need without crossing the yellow line. Seriously, it’s packed with more groove than pavement in a construction zone.
1. White Zombie – La Sexorcisto: Devil Music Vol. 1: And if we’re going to even talk about driving music in the first place, how can we ignore the album that gave us Iggy Pop doing a spoken word about exploding down the highway in a mustang “like a slug from a 45.” That’s right, I’m talking about “Black Sunshine,” the ultimate driving song on the ultimate driving album by White Zombie. If anything, Rob Zombie and crew have given us a perfect album of driving metal. Each song screams “Hey you! Grab the 8 ball shift stick in the Satan’s Hotrod and throw it in high gear, burning rubber and crushing skulls on the Highway to Hell!” The first half of the album pummels the ears with a barrage of thrash metal littered with samples from the golden age of B-grade horror movies. As the tape flips to side B, I often wonder if perhaps the album was somehow accidentally switched, as the momentum of terror drops suddenly into the blissful opening of “I Am Legend.” Just as listeners let down their guard, White Zombie spikes the intensity once again, proving they’re capable of more than just shock value. Songs like the infamous “Thunder Kiss ’65” and “Thrust!” sound as though they were penned mid-orgasm the in back seat of a hearse barreling off the side of a bridge. Now if that isn’t enough to keep you pumped as you glide down the interstate, next time take a bus.