There’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of Hayseed Dixie to the point where I got engaged at their last Glasgow ABC gig… on stage. My first date with my now-wife was seeing them at the Oran Mor so it seemed somehow appropriate.
Recently the band underwent its biggest lineup change since its foundation with the brothers Reno departing to form their own bluegrass band (Reno and Harrell). They were replaced by Johnny Butten on banjo and Hyppy Jo Hymas on mandolin and acoustic guitar.
Perhaps something to do with this, perhaps not (I’m sure the question will be answered in future interviews), the latest album, Hair Down to my Grass, is the first album to feature 100% cover versions since 2003’s Kiss My Grass (though, in fairness, Let There be Rockgrass (2004) only had two original tracks on it and A Hot Piece of Grass (2005) was 50/50).
The choice of tracks is quite eclectic, including one German-worded song which, if you Google it, seems to have some kind of link to the computer game Skyrim. However, if you translate it you’ll realise that “Wind der Veranderung” is a German version of The Scorpion’s “Wind of Change”!
Each track has the typical Hayseed Dixie twist to it, some more than more, and this is something the band are definitely having to work on. While their breakthrough material – such as “I Believe In A Thing Called Love” – could rely on novelty value, the guys are now ten albums deep (depending on whether you go by US or EU releases) into their career and have to impress musically. Thankfully, given the talent that continues to be on show – including from the new guys – this isn’t a problem.
It’s the little touches that make it – the segue into “Rawhide” buried within “Eye of the Tiger”; changing rock anthem “We’re Not Gonna Take It” into a ballad; recording “Wind of Change” into the original artist’s native tongue… You can check out the track list below to see which songs are on the album but every one is a definite classic. Any self-respecting rocker should know them all.
One that I’m particularly glad to see if “Comfortably Numb” which the band have been playing live for some time now. Great to have it in a format I can play whenever I wish.
In short, this is another typically great collection of covers from the band. Nothing new – but then, covers by their nature aren’t – but as good as anything Hayseed Dixie done in the past. If you listen really closely, it’s possible to tell that there are two new members in the band and I await more original material to see what their input is like to that.
- Don’t Stop Believin’
- Eye of the Tiger
- The Final Countdown
- We’re Not Gonna Take It
- Summer of 69
- Pour Some Sugar On Me
- Dude Looks Like a Lady
- Livin’ On a Prayer
- Wind der Veränderund (Wind of Change)
- We are the Road Crew
- Comfortably Numb
- Don’t Fear the Reaper
Hair Down To My Grass is out on January 12th 2015 on CD, digital and (for the first time) vinyl.
And if you can’t wait to hear the material live, don’t forget they’re touring in the new year as well – tickets already on sale.