North Mississippi Allstars
Up And Rolling
New West Records
North Mississippi Allstars newest release Up and Rolling drips of inspiration from one of the coolest stories I’ve read in some time. Photographer Wyatt McSpadden had a forgotten roll of film developed in 2017 that he had taken back in 1996 on a trip to North Mississippi to photograph local musicians. Cody and Luther Dickinson drove McSpadden around on a Sunday afternoon to visit a number of people and places that today would be a bucket list trip for the most discerning musician.
Those photographs served as the inspiration and backdrop for the tracks and now that you know that, the imagery in the music will be that much more prominent. Otha’s farm, Junior’s club, and Zebra Ranch Studios are some of the places featured, while Otha Turner, Junior Kimbrough, and Jim Dickinson are a few of the characters that play a role in the songs. It’s a wonderful step back into what Mississippi was in 1996 and a taste of what it is today.
“Call that Gone” leads off the album and is about as quintessential North Mississippi Allstars as you can get. It’s a ruckus track with growling vocals, ripping slide guitar, and a killer fife that lends a unique voice to the track. It’s a great opening statement to what’s to come. “Up and Rolling” takes the laid back approach and makes me think of the guys riding around in a car from one place to the next. “What you Gonna Do?” features Mavis Staples and Rev. Charles Hodges on that funky B3 and was written by Mavis’s father, Roebuck “Pops” Staples. Everything and everyone on the album is there for a reason and everyone is connected in one interesting way or another.
And speaking of guests on the album, the list is quite long and very impressive. Cedric Burnside lends his vocals and guitar on “Out on the Road”, written by his grandfather R.L. Burnside, and “Take My Hand, Precious Lord” while Cedric’s uncle Garry Burnside plays bass on “Lonesome in My Home” written by Junior Kimbrough . Otha Turner sings on “Otha’s Bye Bye Baby”, Tierinii Jackson and Tikyra Jackson (of Southern Avenue) lend their vocals to “What You Gonna Do?,” “Living Free” and “Drunk Outdoors”, and Roosevelt Collier plays steel guitar on “Bump that Mother”.
One of my favorite songs in general is a Walter Jacobs tune called “Mean Old World” and North Mississippi Allstars do it wonderful justice. They bring in not only Jason Isbell for vocals and guitar, but also Duane Betts to lend some fantastic guitar work to the track as well. “Take My Hand” is also tastefully done with just enough signature Luther slide to give it a revival feel and have you singing along with each line.
I feel that after such a long career in music it’s hard for artists to keep things fresh but that forgotten roll of film, and the stories behind Up and Rolling, couldn’t be any more refreshing. The connections and shared heritage/lineage in Mississippi music and family ties, make this a must have album for all North Mississippi Allstars fans.