Blue Mountain Roots

Call it what you want - a rite of passage where respect is paid to one's influences, a noble attempt at recharging the musical batteries or a desperate holding pattern as a band at loose ends casts about for a new direction - but the "going back to your roots" LP is a staple. And now, Blue Mountain has released their version, recording ten old-time songs, of which all but two are traditional, author-unknown numbers. They claim it was fun to make the record, but much of it suffers the same fate as Dave Alvin's recent voyage in these waters, Public Domain. Many of the numbers are dark, oppressive and somewhat claustrophobic. This is especially so on the acoustic cuts. When they plug in and rock out, as on "Black Is The Color Of My True Love's Hair," the results are a great deal more auspicious. "Banks Of The Ponchartrain" is a unique Irish/Cajun amalgam and "That Nasty Swing," a Cliff Carlisle song, sounds like some nasty Jimmy Reed blues. Although they suffer from many of the same problems as Dave Alvin, in the end, though, they're vastly more successful, even if the LP doesn't meet the high standards of their other efforts. (Black Dog)