Blackberry Smoke's covers EP is not a tribute to just one group. Rather, it's a celebration of one particular recording studio, Capricorn Sound Studios in Macon, Ga., instead. Blackberry Smoke has become one of the best modern Southern rock revivalists, so it follows logically that the group would salute the studio home and city to many of its primary artistic inspirations where some of the songs were originally recorded.
This six-song release includes a couple of The Allman Brothers Band songs, "Midnight Rider" and "Revival," and a few Wet Willie songs, "Keep on Smilin'" and "Grits Ain't Groceries." These four songs are mostly familiar ones to classic rock fans.
Two of the other songs, however, are particularly exceptional. One is Little Richard's "Southern Child," which found the one whom some have called The Real King of Rock 'n' Roll expressing his Southern roots, long before it was cool. The other standout is a performance of The Marshall Tucker Band's "Take The Highway." Upon first listen, that one sounds a bit like Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson had gotten lost and ended up recording in Georgia. But no, this version features Marcus Henderson, who played the original minstrel in the gallery flute part on The Marshall Tucker Band's initial recording. This new take likely sounds perfectly natural to Southern rock aficionados. However, unless you already know the song, its inclusion may temporarily throw you for a loop. In addition to Henderson's special guest appearance, The Black Bettys provide backing vocals throughout. These two singers aren't primarily rock vocalists, however, as their credits also include sessions with Ludicris, Outkast, T-Pain and Bobby Brown.
While technically studio outings, these six tracks have a loose, natural, easygoing vibe - more like a live record without the audience. Also, this blast of rock music power came along right at the right time. Some music just isn't done justice with just only an acoustic guitar and a vocal. Crank this one up to 11, and then get deep down into these Georgia grooves.