While the 1970s brought about the idea of Southern Rock as a sellable commodity, obviously it has always existed before and after--and is far more diverse and expansive than we can fairly treat here. Pantera aren't often thought of as a Southern Rock Band, but surely they are. For our purposes here--mostly to keep my sanity--I'm sticking to bands that in some way conjure up the tradition that's been handed down by the Allman Brothers Band and Lynyrd Skynyrd. If a band somehow reflects that influence, they were entitled to this list. Otherwise, they will have to wait for a list more suited to their sound.
This is the after 1979 crowd....
10) The Black Crowes: Few bands are as deliberately derivative as the Black Crowes who wear their Stones-Faces allegiance in their swagger and their love for blues rock in their groove. They even had a sibling rivalry going just to make them seem that much more classic. If they never quite write the songs, they do manage the jam and the look many people want to know better.
Jason And The Scorchers: Back in the 1980s, country rock was not something that was really looked upon as the potential moneymaker it is now. Not that it's a lucrative business these days, but it's at least considered a pretty cool move in terms of gravitas. Back in the mid-80s, it was considered kinda corny. But that didn't stop these Nashville boys from turning their amps up to 10 and letting fly. Of course, with things being so conservative back then, the most they could hope for was getting a freakin' Rolling Stones cover of "19th Nervous Breakdown" on the radio, instead of one of their fine originals, but that was the world it was.
8) Kings Of Leon: Are these guys really a religious family gone astray or is that just more marketing genius? I guess it's possible they're telling the truth. Their own version of southern rock is lots of boogie riffs and an affection for certain rock clichés that make you wonder if they're putting you on. Is this ironic? Personally, I don't mind. Look at that hair!
North Mississippi All-Stars: Another modern day band that knows their history. But they manage to do it without sounding like they're trying to yank your chain. They should probably settle in as a jam band and stick to that circuit, since their musicianship is high and they need a patient audience who will stick by them. Then again, as Bill Withers once said, we all need somebody to lean on.
6) Gov't Mule: This is a jam band who do it right. They don't noodle. They pulverize. They crank up the amps and everyone plays no nonsense. It's like Blue Cheer if Blue Cheer figured out how to have a career.
My Morning Jacket: I like these guys because they manage to sound like they've learned their history and are ready to discard it. They like to have fun and they like to jam and while the falsettos seem a little gimmicky, it's all part of the good time. As long as they don't start playing four hour shows and think it's about the jam, they'll be fine. They write too many nice songs to bury them in a jam. They bury enough things in reverb as it is.
4) Black Stone Cherry: These young southern rock boys write some pretty strong riffs and their rhythm section is damn tight. Their two albums thus far are a bit too tightly produced--the singer sometimes sounds like he's choking for air. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that a live album would really bring out their explosive side. Will they succeed? One strike against them: I like them.
Stevie Ray Vaughan And Double Trouble: A blues guitarist from Texas, who is sure to star on a list of Top Blues Rock Bands for sure, SRV (sounds like a car) can't be ignored in terms of southern rock if only because he made people care about the blues in a way they hadn't cared in quite some time. And while Eric Clapton seemed content to let the blues go the way of Michelob, SRV was looking to get down in the trenches and make it sweat. And intimidate every other guitar player in the room. It worked.
2) R.E.M.: They're not what most people think about when they think Southern Rock, and Michael Stipe is nowhere near what most people think of when they think of a southern rock singer. He seems so coastal. Almost surfer-ish. Yet, there is a southern charm to these boys caught somewhere in their sublime jangle. While they don't actually boogie worth a lick, they do create a humid mist.Drive By Truckers: Patterson Hood, the leader of this fine group, is the son of legendary Muscle Shoals bassist David Hood, who may have played on more cool records than his son, but who has never starred in the spotlight like his offspring. Patterson sings like an old time country singer, even emphasizes his southern twang and goofs on the very stereotypes he knows some people are waiting for. He's smart, funny and musical. If he was on "The Dating Game," I think we'd have a winner.
- Southern Rock