Mississippi All Stars - Hernando
Songs of the South
Run Time: 40:29
The All-Stars have come a long way since their
critically-acclaimed released Shake Hands with Shorty.
Shake Hands with Shorty was heavily influenced by the romp
and stomp of the North Mississippi Hill Country blues sounds of
Junior Kimbrough and R.L. Burnside. Since then they’ve taken odd
turns into jam band rock, psychedelic, and the old sixties term of
“freak out music.”
The band’s creative director/producer Jim
Dickinson returns to the production helm on this aptly titled album
(named after the Dickinson’s hometown in Mississippi) to head up his
sons Cody & Luther on guitar and drums and bassist Chris Chew. If
you long for sounds of the power trio Cream, the freak out of Spooky
Tooth, the hard overdriven blues approach of Big Brother and the
Holding Company and Jimi Hendrix than this album is for you.
With my tastes being more of a traditional, I
felt the album is a little bit of a misnomer being filed under blues
at times, and at other moments I see it as another pushing the
blues’ limits possibly making it more accessible to my (younger)
generation of fans on the jam band circuits.
On tracks like “Shake Yo (Mama)” and “Keep the
Devil Down” you can hear the influence of the stomps of Burnside and
Kimbrough laced with the Clapton-drenched fuzzy woman-toned guitar
of the sixties. Then, Luther Dickinson who steps aside from the
vocal mic on the tongue in cheek “I’d Love to Be a Hippy” with Chris
Chew taking up the vocal reins, turns in some of the most
blues-inspired guitar on the whole disc. Chew’s turn at the vocals
also leaves one wondering why he doesn’t sing more throughout.
Luther, who now tours with the Black Crowes,
turns in some of the most mature guitar playing I’ve heard from him
yet. However, Luther’s father turns in some of the sloppiest,
laid-back production work I’ve ever heard. The band sounds
completely relaxed and borders on stumbling at times throughout the
disc, especially when they get away from the blues and blues-rock
that they are known for. The groove of the disc seems to fall apart
a little half way through the disc, while the band tries to show off
their diversity in influence.
If you’re a straight ahead blues fan, this disc
probably won’t appeal to you because of the All Stars abilities to
appeal to the rock crowd by submerging their blues roots into rock
riffs and Hendrix-esque distortion. However, if you are of an
on-the-fringe blues fan looking for a toss-back to the blues rock of
those old Johnny & Edgar Winter records or the Cream days, this disc
might be for you
Ben Cox is a Blues Songwriter, Musician, DJ and Journalist.