North Mississippi Allstars
Tone Cool / Artemis
Behold, a mystery. What mysterious warping force can live in the North portion of Mississippi? What sort of swampland fever, bad influence, or hill country genetics can produce the racket of the North Mississippi Allstars?
Actually, it takes a bit of all three. The Allstars, who muscle past Led Zeppelin, Lynyrd Skynyrd and countless others to drink straight from the fountain of Delta blues, find all sorts of inspiration around them, including legendary cane fife player Otha Turner (who also guests here). Closer than geography lie two of the band’s members, Luther (guitar) and Cody (drums) Dickinson, offspring of legendary producer Jim (Flamin’ Groovies, Big Star, Replacements) Dickinson. “Dad, can you produce our next record?”
So what’s inside? A rhythm section locked together like twin oxen pulling a plow. Guitar that smears thick, fragrant Delta mud all over the place. An occasional dash of digital drums or production sophistication. Bassist Chris Chew adds a nice fat layer of sound against which the Dickinsons can embed their crashes and squalls. The opening title track is a typical tribute to moonshining. “Circle in the Sky” is southern rock without reservation, meaning the guitar does the talking. “Snakes in My Bushes” recalls the moment ZZ Top discovered the strange resonance between 808 boogie and the swamp shuffle. Finally, “Sugartown” features a great chunk of riffing in the middle, which wanders in sounding like the intro to “9 To 5” and gradually speeds up into a runaway train carrying old dynamite and roofing nails before catching its breath and gracefully bowing out.
The North Mississippi Allstars build upon foundations forgotten by many; blues 78s and double gatefold albums with melodic guitar solos (Luther Dickinson often recalls one Allman or another). If you have any sort of interest in the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion or The White Stripes, the NMA will be an honest addition to your library.