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Album Review

The second outing from North Mississippi Allstars Luther and Cody Dickinson consolidates their growing strengths, both instrumental (read: fewer drum machines) and compositional (only two covers here, as opposed to the raft of Fred McDowell/R.L. Burnside titles on 2000's Shake Hands With Shorty). Featuring guests like ancient fife player Othar Turner and Big Ass Truck's John C. Stubblefield, the band certainly smokes like they did on their debut, opening with an excellent driving rocker (the title track) that ends with Luther cooing just like Howlin' Wolf. The second song, "Snakes in My Bushes," is a dead-ringer for an age-old blues along the lines of "Stones in My Passway," though ironically it's also one of the few tracks with a drum machine. Yes, 51 Phantom does lose in the comparison game to its excellent predecessor: the Dickinson brothers can't quite hold up an LP with their own songs, and a few of the guitar licks end up as recycled Led Zeppelin clichés. Still, North Mississippi Allstars make the blues sound just as energetic, raucous, and earthy as it's sounded in years. Added bonus: closing out with a raging, nearly demonic "Mud" (a quasi-cover of the Tin Pan Alley standard "Mississippi Mud"), a track verging on grindcore or rap-rock.


Formed: 1996 in Hernando, MS

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Moving into much rootsier territory than their former punk band DDT, brothers Luther (guitar, mandolin, vocals) and Cody Dickinson (drums, sampling) formed the North Mississippi Allstars in 1996 with bassist Chris Chew. The sons of legendary Memphis producer Jim Dickinson were born in Fayette County, TN, and their family later moved to northern Mississippi, where the boys soaked up the country blues sound of the region from artists like Mississippi Fred McDowell and R.L. Burnside. That became the...
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51 Phantom, North Mississippi Allstars
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