I recently saw Luther Dickinson touring with Southern Soul Assembly and found his songs and his sense of humor delightful. So I jumped at the chance to review Rock and Roll Blues.
Dickinson, best known as a member of the North Mississippi All Stars, performs 10 songs here with a stripped down but highly effective musical accompaniment, including strong percussion from Drum and Fife bandleader Sharde Thomas beating on a simple kit and Lighnin’ Malcolm adding additional drums, Dickinson on acoustic guitar and Amy Levere on standup bass and harmony. The songs immediately create a bond between Dickinson and his listeners and you feel as though he is communicating directly to you and you alone. “Vandalize” starts it out with a rhythmic and repetitive ode to the need to just let off steam by destroying something. All of the songs relate to life as a musician in one way or another. Even my favorite track, the very funny “Yard Man,” is all about how his wife wants him to mow the grass when he’s home from the road and how he ‘”ain’t no yard man , ain’t no yardman’s son.”
“Blood and Guts” is about life on the road and “Goin’ Country” takes a humorous look at the appeals of a Nashville career when rock ‘n roll just isn’t working.
While I liked each of the songs on the CD, my other favorite is “Bar Band,” a song which has been getting media attention. It sounds similar to early Stones or The Black Crowes, a group Dickinson has played with in the past, and catches the essence of what it’s like to be a band trying to make a name in small clubs and bars. (After all, even The Beatles and The Stones started out as “bar bands” so this is a nearly universal experience for musicians.)
This is straight-up music, honest and authentic and not gussied up in any way. The only drawback is the length. It is short! At just about 35 minutes, it will leave you wishing for more. Highly recommended!