Review: North Mississippi Allstars - World Boogie Coming

So much to love borders on too much of a good thing on latest from North Mississippi Allstars...
  |   Comments

World Boogie Is Coming is the latest from the Dickinson brothers -- Cody (drums, keyboards) and Luther (guitars, vocals) -- and finds the band playing a host of songs by some of the Mississippi Delta greats as well as a few originals. It also finds them bringing in some heavyweight talents to support them on this sprawling 22-song set, among them Robert Plant, members of the Burnside family (R.L. Burnside's music is represented on the record three times), Lightnin' Malcolm, Otha Turner, and Alvin Youngblood Hart just to name a few.

"JR" and "Goat Meat" open the record riding the wave of some killer harp work from Plant, a talent many forget he possesses in light of his status as one of rock's great frontmen. These two tracks set the tone for what's to come sonically and embody what NMA have done throughout their career. Their modern approach to blues and roots music is imbued with a deep knowledge and passion for the legendary talents that created it. "JR" and "Goat Meat" also introduce a pattern used throughout the album where shorter snippets segue into longer songs. It's an effective device creating both needed continuity and rests for the listener on a record that sometimes feels strung out.

"Shimmy" is a wonderful instrumental workout pitting Dickinson's exquisite slide touch against a fife. There's a long tradition of fifes, flutes, and other whistles in the blues and it is brilliantly revived here and on the quick reading of Little Walter's "My Babe" that follows it.

"Snake Drive" is built on a simple-yet-stellar rhythm that clicks unbelievably tight. Junior Kimbrough's "Meet Me In The City" is elegantly presented with some beautiful slide leads and ensemble singing. "Turn Up Satan" could use a little more menacing in the vocal but the grit in the guitar sound and jagged-yet-focused playing are more than enough to carry the song.

The only thing working against World Boogie Coming is there can, it turns out, be too much of a good thing. The length of the record would have been a challenge even before the digital impact of music began its deleterious effect on the attention span of the average listener. Where this hurts the record isn't that a person may need a of couple sessions to get through it all but that they'll likely fail to ever fully absorb the subtleties and nuances in the expert playing. There are worse problems for a record to have and this doesn't diminish its quality, merely its affect.