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Hayseed Dixie

A Hillbilly Tribute to AC/DC – 2001 (Dualtone)

Reviewed by Brad San Martin

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CDs by Hayseed Dixie

Tribute albums sometimes are absurd attempts to marry genres with source material entirely unsuited to them - whether they be in the name of marketing (the now-notorious and seemingly endless Pickin' On... series) or just plain novelty gimmick (such as Luther Wright's idiotic faux-hillbilly reading of Pink Floyd's "The Wall"). It just doesn't work - maybe good for a chuckle or an excuse for some hot picker to cut loose on material that is beneath their ability, but not as durable, viable, expressive art.

Hayseed Dixie's AC/DC tribute may be the exception that proves the rule. You could burst into tears of laughter at "Big Balls" done as a rapid-fire bluegrass breakdown. "You Shook Me All Night Long" is fashioned into a rollicking, but still sordid two-step. The musicianship is competent, but not extraordinary, as is the singing. It's not particularly well-recorded, and who knows how many of the musicians (all uncredited, by the way) are even intimately familiar with hillbilly (the sound is somewhere in-between acoustic country and bluegrass) music. What redeems this album is the sheer gusto of it - the chutzpah of the gruff performances meeting the meatheaded machoness of the material. All the classics are here - even the more recent number "Money Talks." All are gussied up in new clothes. And all of them are funny, entertaining, and even poignant in the way they dash former arena fodder with more intimate arrangements.