The Southern Rock Allstars
While the name is a bit braggadocios, The Southern Rock Allstars do have a rather healthy pedigree. Drummer Jakson Spires kept time in late ’70s arena wildmen Blackfoot, and guitarist Dave Hlubek was a member of Lynyrd Skynyrd wanna-bes Molly Hatchet. Lead vocalist Jay Johnson is the son of legendary producer and guitarist Jimmy Johnson – part of the famed Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section, discovered of Duane Allman and one helluva nice guy – and a monster picker in his own right. Bassist Charles Hart’s biggest claim to fame is a tour with Richard Marx, but we won’t hold that against him since he’s engineered albums for Lynyrd Skynyrd, Widespread Panic, and Gov’t Mule, plus he’s appeared on tributes for Hatchet’s Danny Joe Brown and Thin Lizzy’s Phil Lynott. So, on paper, Crazy Again should be a treat for music fans who still wave the banner of Southern Rock high and proud. And, actually, it’s not all that bad. Sure, the thing is chock-full of Southern Rock cliches that were old when .38 Special released its first album, from the dirty shuffle of the title track to the oh-so-sincere gospel backing vocals on “Knight In Shining Arms.” Yeah, we’ve heard this all before and for those of us who think the sun shines out of Ronnie Van Zant’s ass, Crazy Again is nothing new. Still, it’s not a horrible record, despite the rather leaden production that admittedly steels some of the fire off guitar scorchers like “Train Of Sorrow” and “Trouble’s Comin’.” It’s just not all that exciting or fresh. Some would argue that Southern Rock in and of itself belongs in the past, although distinctly Southern bands like The Drive-By Truckers, The Bottle Rockets, and Slobberbone make a strong case otherwise. Frankly, The Southern Rock Allstars remind me a lot of a band I saw down in Gainesville called Black Molly, which included ex-Blackfoot guitarist Charlie Hargrett and Hatchet bassist Banner Thomas, and I can only assume The Allstars are as much fun when seen in some smoky, dingy dive of a bar. So if your idea of a good time is the Artimus Pyle Band or the new Skynyrd platter, snag Crazy Again. But if you think any good Southern rock left town the night they drove ol’ Dixie down, take a pass.