Mike McClure is a name very familiar to fans of Texas/Red Dirt music. He was the leader and creative driving force behind the barn-storming and influential Oklahoma band, The Great Divide. He’s produced albums for Cross Canadian Ragweed and Jason Boland. He’s responsible for getting this music into some towns and clubs that didn’t know the difference between Guy Clark and Billy Ray Cyrus before he hit town. After his excellent solo debut, the stripped down “12 Pieces” record and the release of some EP’s (some of which contained material re-released on this LP), Mac is back in a big way with the release of the Mike McClure Band’s “Everything Is Upside Down”.
The first thing that strikes you about Mike McClure is how great of a songwriter he is. Some people call him the “Red Dirt Dylan”, that’s a lofty title that McClure is growing closer to truly deserving with each release. This disc contains 18 tracks and McClure had a hand in writing all of them. There is no filler, every song is a good one. The album was recorded in Belton, TX with steel guitar whiz Steve Palousek behind the mixing boards. Mr. Palousek also several instruments on the record. He’s one of a number of guests, including: Amanda Brown, Stewart Cochran, Milton Waters, and Jeremy Watkins formerly of the Stragglers.
The second thing you’ll notice about this record is just how great the musicianship is. With the help of the above guests, the MMB rips through the awesome material that McClure and his co-writers have provided. McClure is an accomplished guitarist, and along with guitar monster Rodney Pyeatt, he delivers a twin guitar attack throughout the album that will leave you speechless.
As I said, there are no bad tracks on the whole record. Some of my favorites are: “Moon Is Almost Full”, a re-make of “The Void” from “12 Pieces”, “Open My Door”, “You Don’t Know Me Anymore”, “Skies Are Turning Red”, and “Just Not Good Enough”. The tracks on here are better than anything on country, rock or alternative radio and could/should be played on all those formats.
There is an undercurrent of anger, emotion and distance. What many people may read into the lyrics is that it’s related to The Great Divide’s change of direction. While this may be somewhat true, I’d much rather compare it to Pat Green’s budding lyrical maturity on the “Wave on Wave” record. McClure seems to be a man at a crossroads in his life and he has chosen the path that was right for him. The one full of rock n’ roll adventures on 11, and piece of mind. This isn’t your mother’s country music kids but it’s damn good. Don’t buy this expecting to hear a bunch of The Great Divide “Break In the Storm” era type songs. Check out the MMB’s “Everything Is Upside Down”. It’s good music, period. “