Electric Blue Watermelon

Electric Blue Watermelon

by North Mississippi Allstars
     
 

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This trio have never actually strayed all that far from their roots in the deepest Delta, but on this disc, the Allstars really snake those tributaries deep into the dark, fertile soil of their home state. Naturally enough, that means paying a great deal of attention to the region's indigenous blues strains -- as on the purposefully murky, electrified take on

Overview

This trio have never actually strayed all that far from their roots in the deepest Delta, but on this disc, the Allstars really snake those tributaries deep into the dark, fertile soil of their home state. Naturally enough, that means paying a great deal of attention to the region's indigenous blues strains -- as on the purposefully murky, electrified take on Charley Patton's "Mississippi Boll Weevil." On that track, tendrils of Luther Dickinson's guitar creep through the shuffling rhythms like kudzu growing up the side of a shotgun shack. A similar dirt road vibe permeates "Bang Bang Lulu," a hill country traditional that's given an extra dose of moonshine-fueled libidinousness by new lyrics woven in by Dickinson and his drummer brother Cody. The Allstars cast their net past the reach of the juke joints this time around, however. On "No Mo," for instance, they bring in Memphis rapper Al Kapone, whose languid drawl combines with Dickinson's slide guitar to make a stingingly fiery sonic gumbo. Lucinda Williams brings more of a slow burn to "Hurry Up Sunrise," a closing-time duet that recalls the classic pairings of Loretta Lynn and Conway Twitty. Concise, flab-free, and more back-to-basics than anything the Allstars have mustered since their debut, Electric Blue Watermelon lays a stoned soul picnic that'll set those synapses ablaze.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Steve Leggett
Although they may mix elements of hip-hop and alternative rock into their repertoire, the North Mississippi Allstars are really at their best when they blow out the rust on the kind of Mississippi folk-blues numbers they learned first hand from the likes of R.L. Burnside, Junior Kimbrough, and Othar Turner. The lead track here, a blisteringly ragged version of Charley Patton's "Mississippi Boll Weevil Blues," is a case in point. Stripped down and raw, it thunders along on Cody Dickinson's drums, throwing dynamics to the wind until the end, when it breaks down to just washboard and drums, then rises back up into a furious, marching stomp rhythm, before winding wistfully away on Luther Dickinson's slide guitar work. It's a wonderful rendition, and it reestablishes the past in the present without doing damage to either, a balancing act that the NMA do as well as anyone currently on the rock or blues scenes. Produced by legendary Memphis producer (and the father of Luther and Cody) Jim Dickinson, Electric Blue Watermelon has lots of similar moments that reach back to older songs, but instead of re-imagining them, as many artists would do, the Allstars simply amplify what is already there, a bit like tweaking out (but not replacing) the engine in an old stock car. This means the songs still carry the original package of nuts and bolts that made them work in the first place, but with the added kick of being covered by a top-notch band that understands that no one gets anywhere without understanding the past. This doesn't mean that the NMA reproduces the past, just that they understand it. For their version of Odetta's "Deep Blue Sea," for instance, the Allstars actually speed things a hair, but keep the churchy feel of the original, and the result is a delightfully nuanced and bluesy folk hymn that is reverent to its source, but expands on it as well. Two of the songs here ("Teasin' Brown" and "Hurry Up Sunrise,") were worked up by Luther from tapes of the late fife-and-drum-master Othar Turner talking and improvising lyrics on his front porch, while "No Mo" and "Stompin' My Foot" feature Mississippi rapper Al Kapone doing essentially the same thing ("Stompin'" also features some blazing pedal steel guitar work from the amazing Robert Randolph), and all of it ends up sounding like it was cut from the same sturdy bolt of cloth. Another highlight is "Moonshine," a NMA original that sounds a bit like an alt rock version of the Allman Brothers Band, thanks to Luther's Duane Allman-like slide tone. The North Mississippi Allstars call what they do "world boogie," and that's a fine term, but what they really are is a 21st century version of a good old Southern rock band who know all too well that the hills of North Mississippi are alive with real folk music. Just like the final track here, Turner's "Bounce Ball," which starts out as a relentless fife-and-drum march before giving way to the sound of crickets and frogs in the Mississippi night; this is a band that has found a place to stand that makes sense.

Product Details

Release Date:
09/06/2005
Label:
Ato Records
UPC:
0880882154127
catalogNumber:
21541
Rank:
63078

Tracks

Album Credits

Performance Credits

North Mississippi Allstars   Primary Artist
Jimmie Davis   Guest Appearance
Lucinda Williams   Guest Appearance
Revert Andrews   Guest Appearance
Jim Crosthwait   Guest Appearance
Kevin Bruce Harris   Guest Appearance
Roger Lewis   Guest Appearance
Susan Marshall   Guest Appearance
Jim Spake   Guest Appearance
John Stubblefield   Guest Appearance
Harold Thomas   Guest Appearance
Efrem Towns   Guest Appearance
Robert Tex Wrightsil   Guest Appearance
East Memphis Slim   Guest Appearance
Kapone   Guest Appearance
Steve Selvidge   Guest Appearance
Jimbo Mathus   Guest Appearance
Julius McKee   Guest Appearance
Terence Higgins   Guest Appearance
Chris Chew   Bass,Guitar,Vocals,Group Member
Luther Dickinson   Guitar,Vocals,Group Member
Cody Dickinson   Drums,Group Member
Robert Randolph   Guest Appearance
Ben Nichols   Guest Appearance
Otha Andre Evans   Guest Appearance
Aubrey Turner   Guest Appearance
Mary Lindsay Dickinson   Guest Appearance
Whitney Jefferson   Guest Appearance
Sharde Turner   Guest Appearance
R.L. Boyce   Guest Appearance
Rod Evans   Guest Appearance
Otha Turner   Guest Appearance

Technical Credits

Charley Patton   Composer
Lee Baker   Composer
James Luther Dickinson   Composer,Producer,Audio Production
Robert Hall   Drum Technician
Roland Janes   Engineer
Jeff Powell   Engineer
Kapone   Composer
Odetta Felious Gordon   Composer
Pete Matthews   Engineer
Duwayne Burnside   Composer
Kevin Houston   Engineer
North Mississippi Allstars   Composer
Traditional   Composer
Luther Dickinson   Composer
Jason Hatcher   Drum Technician
Brandon Raines   Guitar Techician
Tom Foster   Artwork,Paintings,Animation
Little Lorenzo   Liner Notes
Otha Turner   Composer

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