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Cary Hudson | The Phoenix (Glitterhouse)
The workmanlike and rather ordinary Mississippians Blue Mountain tumbled from peak to base camp last year with a soporific covers swansong called Roots. It was one of my least favourite releases of last year, so I greeted the news of a solo effort from main man Cary Hudson with a mix of abject terror and genuine curiosity. That he should remain faithful to the same turgid, Southern blue-collar country-rock format of yore was fully expected, but I had hoped that, free of the constraints of the band, he may set out his solo stall with more progressive and attractive fare. On 'The Phoenix', the Blue Mountain Massive will be in apoplexy, while the likes of me just yawn and scratch their arses. Openers High Heel Sneakers (an original) and By Your Side are none too promising a start, but the slower title track, questioning certain mysteries of existence, is a little better, if only for asking How can a cow chew it's leg off / when it's caught in a trap? How, indeed - that's got to hurt. I had enough time to nip to the kitchen and toast up a couple of crumpets during the guitar solo in the appalling Butterfly, but worse was to follow in Mad, Bad & Dangerous, where Hudson's character describes himself as "a mad, bad and dangerous lad." The only saving grace here is that it is a marginally more threatening proclamation than those of Michael Jackson. The acoustic Delta / Mountain picking of August Afternoon is fairly pleasant, and then the final three European issue bonus tracks plod uninspiringly by to bring this sorry affair to a close. It's rare that I say such things, but 'The Phoenix' is dreadful, and I'm sorry that it has risen from the Blue Mountain pyre.

Tom Sheriff
August 2002