North Mississippi Allstars – Keys to the Kingdom

January 01, 1970

(Songs of the South)


When brothers Luther (guitar) and Cody (drums) Dickinson
lost their father, famed producer Jim Dickinson in 2009, they dealt with the
grief the only way they knew how – with a recording session in the family’s Zebra
Ranch studio.  The result is a fitting
tribute to the late elder Dickinson, and the grittiest, down-home Allstars’
record since the band’s debut Shake Hands
with Shorty


With dad on their minds, the Dickinson brothers, along with
bassist Chris Chew, march through a concise set of rattling hill country blues
with a consistent lyrical theme of facing death with heads held high. The
opening “This A’Way” is a vintage Stones-style smoker that grumbles with angry
defiance. Acceptance comes later, as Mavis Staples lends ascending gospel
vocals to the face-your-Maker spiritual “The Meeting.” Luther also addresses
his father’s courage and his own mortality in the country dirge “Ain’t No
Grave” when he sings, “When death comes back my way, I hope to be as brave as
he was on judgment day.” The song’s somber tone is endearingly enhanced by
guest Ry Cooder’s slide guitar work.


Dad would be proudest, though, that his boys took his
suggestion to turn Bob Dylan’s “Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues
Again” into a Delta juke joint anthem. Although the head of the Dickinson
family is now gone, it’s apparent his musical legacy is in good hands.


DOWNLOAD: “The Meeting,”
“Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again” JEDD FERRIS

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