First Listen: North Mississippi Allstars’ “You Got to Move”

A new take on a classic Hill Country blues favorite

Photo: Tom Bejgrowicz

When it comes to Mississippi’s Hill Country blues, “You Got to Move” is one of the pillars—an unassailable “hit” song in a genre that is still often overlooked. Mississippi Fred McDowell cut a rickety, haunting slide blues-guitar version of the song, originally a tradition African-American spiritual, in 1965. Six years later, the Rolling Stones pushed the song out into wider public consciousness. Recorded in 1969 at the Muscle Shoals Sound Studios in Alabama, the Stones’ hazy, druggy version was included on their 1971 classic album, Sticky Fingers.

But if anyone else can lay claim to the song, it’s Luther and Cody Dickinson, the founders of the North Mississippi AllStars, fine purveyors of the greasy Hill County blues for more than twenty years. “You Got to Move” is one of 11 tracks on Prayer for Peace, their eighth album—due out on June 2—and their take features fellow Hill Country bluesman Kenny Brown on a rubbery guitar part as well as renowned blues bassist Danielle Nicole, who also contributes vocals alongside Luther, giving the NMA version a rich, slinky vibe.

“Twenty years ago when we founded North Mississippi Allstars, I avoided “You Got to Move” because it was well known,” says Luther Dickinson, who preferred to focus on the band’s own material as well as covers of lesser known songs from Hill Country legends such as Junior Kimbrough and R.L. Burnside (Prayer for Peace contains an absolutely scorching version of Burnside’s “Long Haired Doney.”). “But now in our quest to modernize blues music and make it danceable,” he says, “‘You Got to Move’ is the perfect vehicle for the NMA treatment.”

So, put on those dancing shoes and get down to the North Mississippi AllStars’ version of “You Got to Move” below. And keep an eye out for the NMA’s tour dates: their must-see live show is a sweat-dripping, heart-thumping testament to the power of the Hill Country.