Blue Mountain

  • Blue Mountain
  • Blue Mountain (4 Barrel) 1993 
  • Dog Days (Roadrunner) 1995 
  • Hilltops
  • Big Black River (Fishtone) 1993 

Produced in Missouri by New Yorker Eric Ambel, this Oxford, Mississippi trio (recently returned from a year-long sojourn in Los Angeles) essentially relives Neil Young’s After the Goldrush with a similar disparity of impulses on its first nationally distributed album. (The group had previously released Blue Mountain and, before abandoning its original name, the Hilltops, Big Black River.) “Wink” and the original Elvis tribute of “Epitaph” provide tender acoustic folk balladry; “ZZQ,” about a local radio station, and “Let’s Ride” are rootsy Southern rock; and, best of all, “Slow Suicide” and “Soul Sister” surge with Crazy Horse slow guitar storming. Drawing other related styles from its quiver, Blue Mountain hits the target with stomping heartland rock (the knockabout mythology of “A Band Called Bud,” inspired by the Grifters) and sends a few shots awry with the electric bluegrass of the biographical “Jimmy Carter,” a loud dose of 12-bar (“Special Rider Blues”) and mealy country pop (“Mountain Girl,” “Blue Canoe”). Although singer/guitarist Cary Hudson, bassist Laurie Stirratt and drummer Frank Coutch do good, unpretentious work throughout the album, there are too many different Blue Mountains here. A single Dog Day would have made a longer-lasting impression.

[Ira Robbins]