The Bluefields hang ‘em high with a lethal dose of Southern-fried fortitude on their third record, “Under High Cotton.” The band, comprised of Dixie rock ‘n’ roll royalty in ex-Georgia Satellite Dan Baird and Jason and The Scorchers guitarist Warner Hodges, along with The Cardinals/Ryan Adams drummer Brad Pemberton and Royal Court of China vocalist Joe Blanton, has among their arsenal the razor-wire riffage of Chuck Berry on a hot August night, the cowpunk combustibility to turn on a greased dime, and the sweet Americana sensibilities of contemporary Nashville. In short, this ain’t your daddy’s band of backwoods outlaws.
“Under High Cotton” is an album born from a true lack of inhibition, with production sounding somewhere between the analog trounce of AC/DC’s “Let There Be Rock” and the crumpled clarity of The Who’s “Who’s Next.” Hear Hodges “Keith Richards” his way through some guitar grime in “Great Day in the Morning” and you’ll get the vibe, while Blanton talks up the finer points of simple livin’ – “We can walk to the Waffle House / There ain’t nothin’ in the fridge but beer.”
More raucous is “You Never Knew My Name,” with a rock ‘n’ roll purity derived from The Faces and a Southern rebel soul reflected in bands like Blackberry Smoke. “Shake ‘em on Down” relies on a whomp of a groove from Pemberton, while Baird stokes a single-line bass run, enabling the neo-Zeppelin twang to conquer in twin-lead glory – Jimmy Page distilled through Albert Lee.
An eccentric swath cut from the dirt road less traveled, “Under High Cotton” plays to the strengths of each of its members – songs about living and the universal truths that come from such adventures. It’s righteous rawk enjoyed with toothpick in mouth and a head full of dreams.
The Bluefields ‘Under High Cotton’ Rating: W W W W V