The Hill Country Revue

Zebra Ranch

  • AllMusic Rating
    7
  • User Ratings (0)
  • Your Rating

AllMusic Review by

A year after its rootsy, Southern rock-styled debut, this North Mississippi Allstars spinoff kicks off its sophomore effort with a much tougher approach. In fact, the opening "Raise Your Right Hand" seems somewhat like Paul Rodgers fronting Deep Purple than anything born and bred in the backwoods of Mississippi. But after a few generic hard rockers, including a muscular, whiskey-fueled take on Don Nix's often covered "Going Down," Hill Country Revue, led by the throaty vocals of Daniel Robert Coburn, finds a slightly enhanced, organic yet still gutsy blues-rock groove. Where the debut was a stab at louder and grittier rock than what the Allstars produce, the follow-up finds the collective -- the credits list nine musicians, but there are five core members augmented by guests -- a confident, swaggering, boozy outfit ready to knock them dead at a rowdy outdoor Southern rock festival. The album is named after the late James Dickinson's studio located on his farm, where son/leader Cody recorded both Hill Country Revue discs. The material is predominantly original with four tracks written or co-penned by R.L. Burnside's son Garry, not a member of the band. Versions of "Going Down" and the Stones' "Wild Horses," the latter a nod to Cody's father, who worked on the original, are diversions from the new tunes that comprise the bulk of the set which, as it progresses, returns to the band's swampier, yet still electrified Mississippi vibe. "I Don't Know About You," with its slithering slide guitar -- probably provided by brother Luther, who appears on a few tracks (like the debut, credits for each song aren't listed) -- finds the Revue moving closer to the Allstars less bombastic playing. Cody's self-composed "Idyll," his only solo songwriting contribution, is a personal story of life lessons learned, and is the most introspective moment on the disc. Initially, the boisterous attack of much of this is rather disappointing, especially for fans of the Allstars' more spritely music, or even the Revue's melodic first album. But eventually, the in-your-face blooze rocking starts to sink in due to the tight, forceful, and professional playing, resulting in impressive if occasionally generic Southern rock a few notches above the genre's archetypal style.

blue highlight denotes track pick