CD Review of Make a Move by Hill Country Revue
Hill Country Revue: Make a Move
Recommended if you like
North Mississippi Allstars, Black Keys, Allman Brothers Band
Label
Razor & Tie
Hill Country Revue:
Make a Move

Reviewed by Ed Murray

T
o say this sounds like a North Mississippi Allstars album would be an understatement. It doesn't sound a little like NoMAS...it sounds exactly like NoMAS, which is odd given the absence of NoMAS guitarist Luther Dickinson (who's off making records and touring with the Black Crowes). This is NoMAS drummer (and Luther's brother) Cody Dickinson and bassist Chris Chew's joint, along with some other Mississippi Hill Country friends, associates and various musical cohorts. Don't be alarmed, fanboys! The North Mississippi Allstars haven't broken up, according to both brothers Dickinson.

Much of the material on Make a Move was written by Garry Burnside, youngest son of Mississippi blues legend R.L. Burnside, whose 1990s "comeback," courtesy of Fat Possum Records (and thanks in part to alt-blues-rocker Jon Spencer), was partly responsible for the punk-blues resurgence of the late '90s/early '00s that gave us the White Stripes and the Black Keys, among others.

That Burnside connection is why HCR's gritty, southern rock/blues stew will sound so instantly familiar to NoMAS listeners, casual and fan alike. The brothers Dickinson were weaned on the country-blues of the Mississippi Hill Country, having mostly grown up there, soaking up the vibe at the knee of such regional artists as Mississippi Fred McDowell, R.L. Burnside and Junior Kimbrough. And R.L's son Garry's has obviously absorbed the music of his father and the neighborhood itself.

In fact, Shake Hands with Shorty, the North Mississippi Allstars’ first album, consisted of nothing but rocked- and jammed-out cover versions of blues chestnuts from the likes of McDowell, Burnside, Kimbrough and Furry Lewis. Not that there's anything wrong with that! Subsequent albums found the Allstars stretching out their own songwriting wings.

Fans will also recognize the name Hill Country Revue as the name of NoMAS' fourth album, a live set from the Bonnaroo Festival in 2004 that had the band being joined by other North Mississippi musical luminaries as brothers Duwayne and Garry Burnside, their father R.L., Othar Turner, and the Dickinson brothers' famous father Jim, who has played with or produced such diverse artists as the Rolling Stones, Aretha Franklin, Bob Dylan, Big Star, the Replacements, the Radiators, Ry Cooder and Mudhoney.

It's good stuff, though. Perhaps a bit growlier than pure NoMAS, a bit dirtier, more lowdown, raw...you get the picture. The band features the aforementioned Cody (on guitar! and singing!) and Chew, with Memphis-based slide guitarist Kirk Smithhart, vocalist/harmonica slinger Daniel Robert Coburn and drummer Ed "Hot" Cleveland. Special guests include Luther Dickinson and the brothers Burnside, among others. It comes off as nothing if not one big family affair, the music and the players effortlessly tapping into the same the chemistry that's helped propel the Allstars into one of the best damn rock bands – jam or otherwise – of the last 10 years.

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