North Mississippi Allstars
Up And Rolling
New West Records
A Modern Southern Rock Classic.
I’ve got to tell you about the first time I played this album a few weeks ago. After arriving as a download I immediatly put it on my i-phone, and hours later pressed ‘play’ in the car. Round about track #3 I had curled my lip and raised an eyebrow; this certainly wasn’t what I was expecting or remembered from a previous album; this was a whole lot more poppy and even electro!
When I got home I showed some common sense (for once) and checked the original album on my laptop ……. oddly enough I had mis-filed two albums that had arrived that morning, and this was one!
It’s an age thing!
Anyhoot …… onto the real thing.
The crazy drumbeat that introduces Call That Gone was enough to entrap me when I finally sorted the files out; and when Miss Sharde Thomas and Luther Dickinson trade words you know you are listening to something very, very special indeed ……. and history will show that you are. This opening track melts a hypnotic groove into a rock track that is as tight as a whiskey barrel ….. I’m not going to bore you with lazy comparisons from the 70’s; because nobody from ‘way back when’ ever sounded like this.
The North Mississippi Allstars don’t really need any help with sounding dazzling and, it has to be said ….. brilliant; but here they’ve brought in a bunch of Guest Stars just for the fun of it; and while never ‘giggly funny’ you will invariably find yourself smiling as you nod your head along to each and every beat.
The first of these ‘Guest Stars’ is the Legendary Mavis Staples who breathes her smoky brilliance all over the funklicious What You Gonna Do which also features some guitar playing that defies description too.
The Rising Star of the South, Cedric Burnside makes a couple of appearances too; most notably on the raggedy Out On The Road which sounds like they are making it up in the studio; but you know something this sharp and exciting isn’t as off the cuff as these professionals make it sound.
The other is the slinky Take My Hand; and if ever there was a Musical Marriage made in Heaven; then surely this is it?
But North Mississippi Allstars have more than enough ability, talent and pure skill in their own ranks to create Modern Southern Roots Rock Classics without the aid of others; throwing songs as diverse as the haunting Lonesome In My Home alongside a racy Bump That Mother into the cauldron, while their cover of RL Burnside’s Peaches will leave you mopping the sweat off your brow; and reaching for a cold, cold drink.
On most other albums of this ilk the danceable and Political song Living Free would undoubtedly be my Favourite Track; but the inclusion of a genuine outtake from the Layla sessions that features Duanne Betts and living legend Jason Isbell might be difficult to live up to its ‘billing’ but hey; Mean Old World somehow transcends everything else here, with it’s less than subtle nods to Duanne Allman and Eric Clapton’s wondrous guitar duels on that original album and come out the other end with something as fresh and exciting as it is a historical piece of work.
Bloody love this song, and everything else here for sure.
UP AND ROLLING is Roots, Rock, Swamp and indeed Blues in all it’s wonderful glory with not a single note or word out of place!
Released 4th October 2019