Thursday, February 19, 2004

New Jukebox [sic] music

"I ain't never been to heaven
but I've been told
angels in heaven got
sweet jelly roll."

Flash: where would we be without small record shops? Vinyl Solution is closest to slipping acres, so I go there often. It's pretty good too. When in SF, Aquarius Records is my other favorite digs, when in search of the musical motherlode.

So, I was in VS the other day, when one of the shop-guys asks if I've heard of North Mississippi Allstars. Nope, says I. Based solely on the name, I also prejudged they'd probably not be my cup o' ear candy. So he put it on. Service.

The first song starts off with an upbeat, funky blues riff and the above verse. I haven't heard a lyrical hook starting off a record like that, in a long time. NMAllstars are bizarre. Imagine a world where punk, new wave & grunge hadn't morphed rock into whatever it is now (did someone just say 'a dead-end'?). What if The Allman Brothers, Bad Company and Lynrd Skynrd had just kept evolving? At one time, they did sound pretty amazing. Unfortunately, all that stopped. Death and adherence to Formula ruin too much music.

It's been tried before. Mover was a Sacto-based band, who wasn't afraid to try to update the blues-based rock. Mars, Arizona - a band Sofa conspired with for a while - also goes there; albeit with a bit more folk/singer-songwriter/Neil Youngesque influence. The better purveyors of what became known as Stoner Rock are right in the thick of it too. And, Yahweh bless all the rock bar bands that still serve and sweat , in all the dive clubs across this big land.

NMAllstars seem to be trying to bring something a shade new to the rock. They don't sound like Morphine, but it's a similar attempt at updating. From their website, I see a couple of the guys are the progeny of R.L Burnside and Jim Dickinson (Ardent Studios mega producer to bands like The Stones, Ry Cooder, Dylan). Figures.

NMAllstars does slip in an Eagles-like ballad or two. I shocked myself by being OK that. It makes sense, here. I guess, in a just world, Polaris should be on all set-up bar jukeboxes. Drink up and sing along.


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