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|The new album brings the band back to centerstage. As far as the New York Times are concerned, their drive is getting ever stronger. "Resourcefulness, semantic and otherwise, suits the Allstars (…) The band has always drawn deeply from the style and repertory of Delta bluesmen", as their gig in the Big Apple was reviewed by critic Nate Chinen. Chinen lauded Luther's "tireless" guitar work as well as the group's jam-happy version of "All Night Long", a song made classic by Junior Kimbrough.
The fire within. Creativity. Trust in own ability. All this and more is ever-present on "Hernando", the North Mississippi Allstars' new album, named after the hometown of the Dickinson brothers. Released on their own label Songs of the South Records in late January, this is the fifth studio cd by the trio.
"Hernando" is the naked truth about the North Mississippi Allstars. The NMA have the guts to proverbially lay bare in front of their audience – music is often at its most beautiful that way. Guest musicians are heard on several tracks, but as one listens to the trio alone, the sound is at its best. All three guys seem to believe in themselves strongly – this results in a sound scenery that strikes to an amazing effect.
|Full-blooded Rage from Hernando, Miss.
14 February 2008
The fifth studio album by the North Mississippi Allstars hits to an astonishing effect. Guitarist Luther Dickinson describes the music as classic blues-rock, but the content is much more rewarding than that.
Last summer's Finnish gig by the North Mississippi Allstars attracted a lot of attention weeks before it actually took place. The concert fulfilled the high hopes; so much so even the more experienced blues enthusiast was moved by the young energy of Luther and Cody Dickinson, and Chris Chew.
|Song number two, "Keep the Devil Down", is probably the greatest example of the NMA sound. Nine out of ten bands would have fixed the sonic holes with a rhythm guitar or other supporting instrument, but on this song, even the guitar solos are accompanied by Cody and Chris only; this way Chew's burly bass lines and Cody's furious drumming – complete with outrageous mini-solos – get the room they deserve. You can really feel the band's full-blooded rage here.
Opening track "Shake" belongs to the same category. The oft-repeated line "Shake what your mama gave you" indeed has some erotic feel to it, too. Also "Take Yo Time, Rodney" and "Eaglebird" deliver the goods. "Soldier", a formidable one as well, raises thoughts on the ever-topical issue of wars of religion. The message is emphasised by inspired instrumental input by all three; especially Cody's drum work astonish with energy.
|"Mizzip" is a brighter rock & roll tune, whereas "Blow Out" is pure rockabilly. The song is sweetened by some slappin' bass by Amy Lavere, and the Chuck Berry –influenced guitar by Luther. "Rooster's Blues" gives the finger to the indifferent attitude that is so common today: "It's a dirty job, but don't make me do it!" It could be pointed out that Champion Jack Dupree's "I'd Love to Be a Hippy" is the only song on the album that's purely blues. This is not, however, to deny the fact that delta blues influences are ever-present on "Hernando".
Luther Dickinson calls this music 'classic blues-rock'. I tend to disagree a bit, as the connotations of the term might not be universally positive. Instead, this is something much more ambitious – an innovative, progressive at places, sonic structure extracted straight from the hard core of the blues.
Procuded by father Dickinson, Jim – who has worked e.g. with The Rolling Stones and Screamin' Jay Hawkins – you just have to experience the effect of the new North Mississippi Allstars album yourself. In Finland, the government has the habit of patronising the citizens; my advice is to add warning stickers to this album: This cd can cause strong impressions - even dependency.
North Mississippi Allstars: Hernando. Songs of the South Records, 2008
Luther Dickinson (guitar, vocals), Cody Dickinson (drums, vocals, guitar, electric washboard), Chris Chew (bass, vocals)
Guests: James Mathus (vocals), East Memphis Slim (piano), Kurt Clayton (piano), Amy Lavere (double bass), Jimmy Davis (vocals)
Producer: Jim Dickinson
Links: North Mississippi Allstars homepage and MySpace
|Luther in Rauma, Finland 2007
© Aigars Lapsa