Keys to the Kingdom

Keys to the Kingdom

by North Mississippi Allstars


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Keys to the Kingdom

Keys to the Kingdom is the most personal recording in the North Mississippi Allstars catalog. That said, "personal" doesn't mean "quiet." It was recorded at their home Zebra Studios in the aftermath of Cody and Luther Dickinson's father, musician, producer, and Southern music historian Jim Dickinson's passing and the birth of Luther's first child. The words "Produced for Jim Dickinson" that adorn the album's back sleeve offer a hint as to the album's sound. The metallic sheen that permeated 2008's Hernando has been stripped away to make room for the most stripped-down recording since the band's debut album, Shake Hands with Shorty. The sounds here have been informed by Cody and bassist Chris Chew's side project, the Hill Country Revue, and Luther's involvement with the Black Crowes and the South Memphis String Band. The latter released the Grammy-nominated Home Sweet Home. Also nominated for a Grammy (and influential here) is Onward & Upward, cut by the brothers under the moniker of Luther Dickinson & the Sons of Mudboy, a few days after their father's funeral. "This A'Way" kicks things off with a raw, bluesy, barroom rocker à la the Rolling Stones (circa Exile), with Spooner Oldham's pounding upright piano keeping time through the changes just under the blazing guitars, the crackling snare, and the hi-hat. "Jumpercable Blues" is a rowdy, pissed-off, down-home blues with Gordie Johnson's guitar teaming with Luther's. "The Meeting" is swampy, gutbucket, gospel blues starring Mavis Staples. Ry Cooder guests with his trademark slide guitar on the stellar "Ain't No Grave," in which Luther sings, "I would hope to be as brave as he was/ On judgment day/Ain't no grave can hold his body down...." Alvin Youngblood Hart -- also a member of the South Memphis String Band -- guests on harmonica and vocals on the strolling backporch blues of "Ol Cannonball." The clamoring "New Orleans Walkin' Dead" is a declamatory boasting stomp with Hart screaming on harmonica; it humorously celebrates zombie love. The set closes with the easy groove "Jellyrollin' All Over Heaven," a celebration of eternal life with Chew's bumping bassline countered by Cody's popping snare and Luther's dirty-assed slide guitar, before a solo Oldham piano coda takes them out. Keys to the Kingdom may have been recorded in response to death and birth but it is, more than anything else, a celebration of all that Jim Dickinson held dear in life and music, which are, after all, the same thing.

Product Details

Release Date: 02/01/2011
Label: Songs Of The South
UPC: 0626570611844
catalogNumber: 6118

Album Credits

Performance Credits

North Mississippi Allstars   Primary Artist
Ry Cooder   Guitar,Guest Appearance
Jack Ashford   Tambourine,Guest Appearance
Spooner Oldham   Piano,Guest Appearance
Jim Spake   Clarinet,Saxophone,Guest Appearance
Mavis Staples   Vocals,Guest Appearance
Alvin Youngblood Hart   Harmonica,Vocals,Guest Appearance
Gordie Johnson   Guitar,Guest Appearance
Chris Chew   Group Member
Luther Dickinson   Group Member
Cody Dickinson   Group Member

Technical Credits

Bob Dylan   Composer
James Luther Dickinson   Poetry,Producer
Martin Pradler   Engineer
Kevin Houston   Engineer
North Mississippi Allstars   Composer
Luther Dickinson   Composer
Manny Sanchez   Engineer

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