The Allstars' debut album, Shake Hands With Shorty, pulled down a good deal of adulation last year.

The Allstars' debut album, Shake Hands With Shorty, pulled down a good deal of adulation last year. The disc garnered praise for its distinctive, hard-nosed fusion of raucous Southern rock energy with the traditional tunes of Mississippi hill country blues. On 51 Phantom, the Allstars step out with their own material; nine of the 11 cuts are originals—and potent ones at that. Luther Dickinson's nasty guitar licks are slathered all over the opening, title track, resulting in a groove that invokes the boogie demons. That vibe only grows deeper and dirtier, until the record culminates with the simply, evocatively titled "Mud." Intriguingly, the Allstars have managed to make a sophomore album of greater polish in some areas and less in others. Whether or not impresses listeners as much as Shake Hands With Shorty, this move was vital for taking the Allstars sound to the next level.—PVV