A Hillbilly Tribute To AC/DC

Hayseed Dixie

Dualtone Records, 2001


REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


On paper, I should absolutely hate Hayseed Dixie. Touted in the press as a novelty act, this group of anonymous pickers took a bunch of songs I've spent my entire adult life listening to and country-fried them. I should be outraged at what they did to AC/DC, undoubtedly one of the best rock bands to ever drag their knuckles on this planet. I should be disgusted at the twists these ten songs have taken.

I should... but the truth is, I love this album. I do, however, hate that Hayseed Dixie is being treated like an inbred cousin in the press.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Okay, the concept of a bluegrass band covering hard rock is funny - and the bio that introduces Hayseed Dixie to the world has tongue firmly planted in cheek - right there next to the wad of Red Man tobacco. But A Hillbilly Tribute To AC/DC works as well as it does because of three factors.

First, Hayseed Dixie, for all their peculiarities, take this music seriously. They don't ever forget that there is an aspect of fun to AC/DC's music, and they absolutely capture it in their renditions. They also keep things surprisingly close to the originals, meaning that songs like "Highway To Hell" and "Let's Get It Up" keep a lot of the flavor of the original songs.

Second, Hayseed Dixie may or may not be a novelty act, but these guys can absolutely play bluegrass with the best of them. I'm willing to bet the normal 14-year-old metalhead wouldn't listen to a bluegrass CD if they were offered a night with a swimsuit model, yet they will probably latch onto Hayseed Dixie pretty quickly, if only because they're covering AC/DC. The fact is, such a disc might awaken an interest in a musical genre that one otherwise might not be willing to try - and Hayseed Dixie does it amazingly well, from the acoustic guitar to the mandolin and violin.

Third, Hayseed Dixie never takes themselves too seriously. There is a loose feel to this disc - which is exactly what the subject matter calls for. Hayseed Dixie is comfortable enough in their own skin to take chances; let's all thank God for that.

All of this said, there are two minor points of contention I'll raise - both bordering on nitpickng. Only two covers - "Moneytalks" and "T.N.T." - don't quite have the same spark or stay as close to the bone as their compatriots. It's a minor disappointment, though, and Hayseed Dixie more than compensates for it.

A Hillbilly Tribute To AC/DC is a surprisingly good disc from a band who deserve to be taken seriously. After all, if Dolly Parton can cover Collective Soul and be respected, why can't these lovable country bumpkins?

Rating: A-

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© 2002 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Dualtone Records, and is used for informational purposes only.