2

James Luther Dickinson/North Mississippi Allstars: I'm Just Dead, I'm Not Gone

Doug Collette By

Sign in to view read count
James Luther Dickinson/North Mississippi Allstars: I'm Just Dead, I'm Not Gone The music of I'm Just Dead, I'm Not Gone is as ghostly as the black and white cover photo of its principal. North Mississippi Allstars provides appropriately earthy accompaniment to a front man who commands the spotlight in larger-than-life fashion.

A little background helps enhance the focus on the portrait provided by this album, sufficiently vivid as it is. By the time of his death in 2009, James Luther Dickinson had become something of a griot of southern music and rock in general. Beginning his work at Sam Phillips' Sun Studios, Dickinson went on to become a fixture at Criteria Studios in Florida where, as a member of The Dixie Flyers, he backed singer Aretha Franklin, among other prestigious artists on Atlantic Records, prior to various solo projects.

Playing keyboards and singing, Dickinson eventually worked with The Rolling Stones and guitarist Ry Cooder, and acted as producer for a wide array of acts including The Replacements, Big Star, and John Hiatt, all the while nurturing the musical talents of his two sons, Luther and Cody—who, after engaging in the punk band DDT, went on to form The North Mississippi Allstars, one of contemporary blues' proudest standard-bearers (which has also recorded and toured with Hiatt).

With that trio, also including bassist Chris Chew and here featuring guitarist/vocalist Jimmy Davis, Dickinson was recorded in monaural sound in 2006 on Beale Street in Memphis, playing music that packs a punch on a purely visceral level, simultaneously presenting a textbook of roots music and replicating the flashpoint where country music and blues became rock 'n' roll.

Yet, it's not just the sting of Luther Dickinson's guitar on "Kassie Jones," the mighty wallop of his brother Cody's drums throughout, or the pointed boom of kindred spirit Chew's bass that permeates this unpolished audio; the sounds of the instruments resound in the large shadow cast by the highly salty presence of the man who receives top billing here. The sardonic spoken word intro is, indeed, only the beginning.

James Luther Dickinson sounds like he's lived "Ax Sweet Mama" and "Codine" and, if he isn't exactly the better for the experience(s), his survival reaffirms a lust for life that, in more lighthearted moments such as "Red Neck Blue Collar," reveals a hard- won joy. "Money Talks" shows why Luther Dickinson has come to rival Derek Trucks in both ingenuity and intensity but, as is the case on that track and "Down in Mississippi," he generally defers to his the front man as any judicious sympathetic accompanying musician would do.

It is, however, not so difficult a challenge to sublimate himself, along with his comrades, to the role played to the hilt by as versatile and musicianly a figure as has inhabited contemporary music. Much of I'm Just Dead, I'm Not Gone may sound familiar in terms of lyrics and chord changes—most obviously in the form of "Truck Drivin' Man"—but definitely not so much in terms of raw authenticity.

Track Listing: Money Talks; Ax Sweet Mama; Codine; Red Neck, Blue Collar; Kassie Jones, Pt. 1; Rooster Blues; Never Make Your Move Too Soon;Truck Drivin' Man; Down In Mississippi.

Personnel: Jim Dickinson: keyboards, guitar, vocals; Luther Dickinson: guitar; Chris Chew: bass; Jimmy Davis: guitar, vocals.

Title: I'm Just Dead, I'm Not Gone | Year Released: 2012 | Record Label: Memphis International


Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Developing Story CD/LP/Track Review Developing Story
by Edward Blanco
Published: June 26, 2017
Read Lantern CD/LP/Track Review Lantern
by John Kelman
Published: June 26, 2017
Read Inspirations (featuring Matthew Halsall) CD/LP/Track Review Inspirations (featuring Matthew Halsall)
by Phil Barnes
Published: June 26, 2017
Read Unification CD/LP/Track Review Unification
by Troy Dostert
Published: June 26, 2017
Read Crossing CD/LP/Track Review Crossing
by Geno Thackara
Published: June 25, 2017
Read Unit[e] CD/LP/Track Review Unit[e]
by Karl Ackermann
Published: June 25, 2017
Read "Etchings in Amber" CD/LP/Track Review Etchings in Amber
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: September 1, 2016
Read "Love Dance" CD/LP/Track Review Love Dance
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 20, 2017
Read "Lockout Station" CD/LP/Track Review Lockout Station
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: January 1, 2017
Read "Reflections" CD/LP/Track Review Reflections
by Mark Sullivan
Published: March 25, 2017
Read "Reflections" CD/LP/Track Review Reflections
by Matthew Aquiline
Published: March 11, 2017
Read "2468 West Grand Boulevard" CD/LP/Track Review 2468 West Grand Boulevard
by Rob Rosenblum
Published: December 27, 2016

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.