It’s not often you can say of an album: “features covers of songs by The Sex Pistols, Status Quo and Cliff Richard“. Happily in the case of Hayseed Dixie the dizzy imp that inspires them allows them to pick off tracks by anyone who catches their eye.
For those who missed the furore caused by their first release, Hayseed Dixie are a bunch of badass blue grass performers who began doing covers of AC/DC songs then gradually expanded their repertoire to increasingly bizarre choices of music. There’s a strong vein of ‘novelty record’ to everything they do but now they’re coming round to the sort of songs – like the Scissor Sisters‘ I Don’t Feel Like Dancing – that you’d think of if looking for chart material that would suit the bluegrass treatment.
There’s also a novelty record strand to many of the original compositions on their latest album Weapons of Grass Destruction. Apart from the magnificent playing on Hungover Brokedown they play to redneck humour with She Was Skinny When I Met Her and The Rider Song which sets their performance rider to music – “A crate of ale and a crate of lager” then goes on to give a snapshot of life on the road.
Strangely The Pistols’ Holidays In The Sun, its driving guitar riff transformed into a meandering banjo line that’s actually rather beautiful, works much better in bluegrass format than the more traditionally structured Cliff cover, Devil Woman, which follows it. Strawberry Fields forever is also a song transformed by a racing fiddle and banjo instrumental with a burst of Cotton Eyed Joe thrown in for good measure. The lolloping beat of their version of Paint It Black isn’t so successful, nor is Status Quo‘s Down Down, a dreary song only fleetingly enlivened by the new instrumentation.
How excited you’ll be to hear more unlikely numbers transformed by the addition of fiddle and banjo and deeply Deep South vocals rather depends on your tolerance for blue grass in the first place. Hayseed Dixie may not be the most talented musicians but they’re far from the least, and they know how to swing with a vengeance. You cannot help but like a band with the gusto to cover stone classics in such an unlikely way. It may not be an album you return to again and again (except when excitedly playing a particular track to friends) but it�s an album that’ll brighten up a dreary Monday morning commute.