After putting out Electric Blue Watermelon which signified a comeback, the North Mississippi All-Stars decide to up the ante in their hard hitting follow-up Hernando.
Produced by their father Jim Dickinson, Hernando isn't the happy, blissful work that Electric Watermelon was. Moving far away from their hill country roots, the All-Stars deliver a hard rock package that resembles the classic rock era when musicians knew how to play music.
This isn't the Fat Possum catalog of music we are used to the All-Stars delivering. The production on this rivals the psychedelia of Cream, the guitar histrionics of Jimi Hendrix and the metal sludge of Black Sabbath.
Some sunshine does emerge from behind the clouds. Drummer Cody Dickinson takes the front man position for his own "Mizzip" which is a silly hip shakin bounce for the mosh pit crowd. Chuck Berry's spirit is a malevolent force in the speeded tempo of "Blow Out." Bassist Chris Chew unearths the hidden Champion Jack Dupree nugget "I'd Love to Be A Hippy" for a little light hearted relief.
Opening track "Shake" has all the potential of a bootleg whiskey shaker until guitarist Dickinson cuts loose with solos that are a ZZ Top and Hendrix hybrid.
"Keep The Devil Down" has a menacing downer sludge beat. There's the voodoo march stomp in the metal of "Soldier."
Writing songs with buddy James Mathus seems to work some of the time. "Come Go With Me" meanders like a wounded mojo into the pounded slam of "Rooster's Blues." Dickinson's slide pushes "Take Yo Time, Rodney" like a Delta tornado. Final cut "Long Way From Home" is akin to waking up with a hangover from too much moonshine. Dickinson's guitar blends jazz lines and Neil Young lyricism.
There are no hip-hop or rap sojourns that made past releases unwelcome detours. Listeners weaned on the classic rock of Zeppelin, ZZ Top and Sabbath will love this sucker to death. Luther Dickinson will have his work cut out for him since has joined the Black Crowes. But if he gets caught up in the Robinson family feud, he wont have to stand in the unemployment line for long.