Take some Skynyrd attitude and mix in some Seattle grunge with a dash of Nickelback's hooks, and you have a pretty good sense of Black Stone Cherry, a proud second generation southern rock band. BSC's drummer, John Fred Young, is the son of Richard Young of the Kentucky Headhunters and the nephew of Fred Young, the Headhunters drummer.
Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea is Black Stone Cherry's third album, and it show signs that a wide commercial breakthrough might be just around the corner for the band. Like the Headhunters, Black Stone Cherry's sound comes from a slightly earlier era. There's a comfort in the hard rock sounds of Pearl Jam's Seattle just like the Headhunter's 70s southern rock vibe found a home in 1980s Nashville. John Fred Young explains all the family connections in an interview from 2007:
The HeadHunters’ practice house, which we’ve pretty much taken over, is filled with pictures of Cream, Hendrix, Howlin’ Wolf, and all the greats. We’re a real southern rock family. We live on a farm and we’ve got cows, horses, and pigs, and we raise tobacco and cut hay. And my dad, uncle, and cousins have been playing rock ’n’ roll since they were kids. So there’s a lot of tradition there.
Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea features the southern-fried metal guitar licks that anchors Black Stone Cherry's sound. Tracks like "White Trash Millionaire," "Killing Floor," "Such A Shame," and "Change" are guaranteed to clean the dust out of your speakers. "In My Blood" and "Stay" both are classic power ballads. The boys also bring a some slinky swagger to tracks like "Blame It On The Boom Boom" and "Let Me See You Shake."
Two songs deserve notice as radio hits in waiting, "Won't Let Go" and "Like I Roll." "Like I Roll," in particular, does an amazing feat of synthesizing heartland rock anthems with southern rock guitar licks over a sing along chorus. It the kind of song that demands to be blasted from convertibles all summer long.
Black Stone Cherry also gives a proper nod to their roots. They provide Marshall Tucker Band's classic "Can't You See" a little hard rock updating for a new audience. The album closes with "All I'm Dreamin' Of," an acoustic Appalachian tune that still delivers a hard rock punch.
With Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea, Black Stone Cherry has made themselves a good old summer time record. School's nearly out, and Black Stone Cherry is providing 2011's summertime soundtrack.
- Jim Markel
Swampland's Legends of Southern Rock
(includes individual band pages on Lynyrd Skynyrd, the Allman Brothers, Marshall Tucker, and many more. Each have numerous archival interviews with band members)