Black Stone Cherry: Between The Devil & The Deep Blue Sea

Southern rock scamps keep the flame alive.

TODO alt text

Think of a typical southern rock band and your brain probably conjures a mental image of grizzled, grey-haired old dudes, some wearing leather chaps and at least one of whom must sport a Stetson hat? Possibly even an eye-patch or two? Black Stone Cherry don’t fit the bill.

For starters they’re still in their mid-twenties. And yet, inspired by the fact that drummer John Fred Young’s dad was a member of cult act The Kentucky Headhunters, they’ve been a band for more than a decade.

Between The Devil & The Deep Blue Sea is the third album from the fast-rising US quartet, named the Best New Band at the Classic Rock Awards in 2007. Since then things have escalated slowly and sensibly, having won kudos from Joe Elliott and David Coverdale when opening for Def Leppard and Whitesnake.

As if to confirm their upwards trajectory, BSC then headlined at London’s Brixton Academy and Hammersmith Apollo during the roadwork for their last record, Folklore And Superstition. Plenty was riding on BTDATDBS, but Black Stone Cherry have responded with an immensely enjoyable album that’s crammed to the brim with all of their usual personality, huge choruses and winning good cheer.

Its tongue lodged firmly in somebody’s cheek, the album’s opening statement White Trash Millionaire is a gloriously memorable lambasting of the horrors of celebrity culture that Kid Rock would have been proud to have written. As surprisingly staunch teetotallers the band prefers to spend their time chasing the fairer sex than nursing a hangover, a practice reflected in the suggestive bump’n’grind of Blame It On The Boom Boom. “It feels so good/And you knew that it would/When we’re bringing on the boom boom,” purrs guitarist Chris Robertson lasciviously, before informing us that his offer remains good: “in the bedroom, the bathroom, the classroom, the last room on the left”. He’s nothing if not persistent, but it’s a wonderful song.

BSC’s own compositional skills are so consistent that they don’t really need to lean upon cover versions, but a steel-reinforced remake of the Marshall Tucker Band’s Can’t You See fits them like a glove. That they selected its relatively obscure strains instead of paying lip service to a Skynyrd classic only reinforces the group’s Southern cred.

During the wistful Won’t Let Go, Robertson muses: “I wonder where we’ll be/When we are 33/Will we still be who we are?” Put your money on it, and them.