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Old Crow Medicine Show - The Dirty South
on 12 September 2012
Unfortunately for Old Crow Medicine Show when it comes to the UK they have become largely known by one song namely the great "Wagon Wheel" which has been covered by Mumford and Sons. It is shame since they are an enthralling and exciting act who do old time blue grass, rock 'n' roll and alt country much better than many of their contemporaries and have a raucous foot stomping edge that is places them nearer to the tradition of Doc Watson as opposed to the safe country rock of the Eagles. "Carry me back" is a sparkling return to form after the dull affair that was 2008s "Tennessee Pusher" which eventually led the band in a voluntary hiatus in 2011 allowing some of its members to exercise a range of alcohol related demons in the process.
"Carry me back" is a abbreviation of "Carry Me Back to Old Virginny", the former official state song of Virginia. Drawing inspiration from the cradle of the Civil War it not surprising that the central event in American history plays a part in this album not least the lively of hoedown based title track charting the brother against brother tragedy of that conflict. Other standouts include the punk hillbilly of "Sewanee Mountain Catfight" which defies you to keep your foot from tapping and dusting down an ancient pair of cowboy boots. It could also generate a new form of "air fiddle" to match "air guitar". OCMS debt to the Band is on full display in the stomping "We don't grow tobacco" which makes you wish that the late Levon Helm was around to take a vocal shot at. The band come right up to date with "Levi" a song about a solidier in the Iraq war and in doing so produce an album standout. Mention in dispatches should also go to the blistering "Mississippi Saturday Night", the tender country lament that is "Genevieve" and the Hank Williams related "Country Gal" which does sound like a variation on "Hey good lookin".
OCMS are a solid and admirable outfit. There is nothing new about their music as it positively wears its old time influences on the sleeve of a beat up old checked shirt. You could however do a lot worse than check out this band since they mine a tradition with an impeachable pedigree of old country blues. Their secret weapon is inject into it an admirable level of rowdy enthusiasm and unruliness which makes them a hugely enjoyable force to be reckoned with.