Editors' pick

Cedric Burnside & Lightnin' Malcolm


Editorial Review

Geoffrey Himes wrote about Cedric Burnside and Lightnin' Malcom in January 2009 for The Washington Post:

As he sings on "R.L. Burnside," Cedric Burnside was the longtime drummer in his grandfather R.L.'s band and thus played on some of the greatest blues records of the past dozen years. On the new album "2 Man Wrecking Crew," Cedric tries to extend the legacy of his late granddad with the help of family friend Steve "Lightnin' " Malcolm. They have intermittent success, mostly when they stick to the Mississippi Hill Country sound that the Burnside family has done so much to define.

At times, the duo tries to transform that sound into Southern-rock, much as the North Mississippi Allstars have. But as both a singer and guitarist, Malcolm lacks the lilting lyricism that enables the Allstars' Luther Dickinson to pull off such a makeover. At other times, the duo tries to update the blues with funk and hip-hop flavors, but this merely slows down and flattens out Burnside's distinctive drumming.

Ironically, "2 Man Wrecking Crew" sounds most modern and most original when it sticks closest to R.L.'s example: Modern because the stark, two-chord vamps and rumbling syncopation of the Hill Country sound resembles the cutting edge of underground rock, and original because no one can do that sound like north Mississippians. When Burnside sings about his fussing-and-fighting lover on "That's My Girl," about his freeloading friend on "Tryin' Not To Pull My Gun" or about a new love on "Stay Here in Your Arms," the combination of his push-and-pull drumming and Malcolm's noisy guitar sounds like the freshest music in the world.