Lickety Split Rocks Its Way Into The Year’s Best New Records List

Courtesy:  Blue Note Records

Courtesy: Blue Note Records

Robert Randolph and the Family Band are back.  And they are back in grand fashion on their first album in three years.  The new record, Lickety Split is one of the best new records of 2013, hands down.  This twelve-song musical masterpiece mixes lots of fun anthems with some more subdued pieces and tosses in a pair of covers and a famous guest spot to make it an album that audiences will find themselves enjoying even more with each listen. 

Among the best of the album’s more full on songs is its opener, ‘Amped Up.’  This was the perfect choice with which to open the album.  It wastes no time at all getting listeners moving.  The energy kicks right into gear at one thousand percent, making listeners want to pump the volume on their stereos and iPods to eleven.  It’s just a fun, full on song that anyone will enjoy.  Randolph sings cheerfully, You’ve only got one life to live/So give it everything you’ve got to give/If anybody asks you why/Look ‘em in the eye and say/I’m about to get amped up/Everybody throw your hands up/Come on and get cranked up/Everybody get amped up.”  The energy from the lyrics mixes with the song’s music to easily achieve its goal at getting audiences amped up and moving.  Once the song ends, Randolph and company pull back, but not too much, in the bluesy/gospel hybrid ‘Born Again.’ 

‘Born Again’ isn’t as high energy as ‘Amped Up.’  But, it still has its own energy.  The song’s bluesy/gospel hybrid sound is just like something that one might actually hear in a church.  Ironically enough Randolph himself stated of the song that this song was originally a love song.  “It’s about finding the joy again,” he said.  “At first, it was more of a love song, about the sense you get when you find the right person.  Then as we were recording this new music with a whole new sense of direction and feeling free again it all came together.  It’s not a religious thing, it’s just new energy—which is really the old energy that I had at the beginning of my career.”   It’s interesting that he notes that it not only started out as a love song, but that it was also not a religious thing.  That’s because with its hybrid sound, it could just as easily pass for a song one might hear in a church.  Regardless, it’s a song that any listener will enjoy.  Vocalist Lenesha Randolph’s vocals are so strong throughout the song.  And the addition of a choir to back the band serves to make the song that much better.  It’s such an impressive follow-up to the album’s opener that by its end, some listeners might even find themselves out of breath and energy having danced their way through both songs.  Thankfully, the band pulls back just a little more on the next song, ‘New Orleans.’

New Orleans is even more pulled back than the first two songs on Lickety Split.  After all of the energy carried by those two songs, this seeming love letter to one of America’s greatest cities is perfectly placed in the album’s overall sequencing.  Again, Lenesha Randolph takes center stage, her vocals so gentle and calming.  Set again Robert Randolph’s slightly more upbeat sections, the two make for a wonderful juxtaposition celebrating Nola.  Lenesha sings fondly of the city, “I heard a sound/Sweet soulful sound/And a happy song/In my dreams/A marching band/Piano man/And that soul…/So sad and sweet.”  The tone in her singing instantly creates such a sense of nostalgia among listeners.  This includes even listeners who have maybe never been to New Orleans.  One can almost see images in sepia tone in their minds, everything of which she sings.  Robert Randolph’s counterpoint, on the other hand, brings everything into full color.  It helps to paint a massive, happy picture of a city that has done and meant so much to America.  It’s one more wonderful addition to an album that boasts so many high points. 

The joy of this album doesn’t end with its first trio of songs.  As soon as ‘New Orleans’ fades gently away, the party gets moving again with the aptly titled, ‘Take The Party.’  This piece brings back the energy of the album’s opener before easing into the more old school funk influenced ‘Brand New Wayo.’  The fun doesn’t end here, either.  Randolph and company keep listeners’ ears throughout the rest of this album. This is thanks in large part to the band’s continued talent and skill as musicians.  Credit will be given where credit is due here.  The people behind the boards are also to thank for this album’s fun factor, as well as guest guitarist Carlos Santana and trombone player, Trombone Shorty. 

Engineer Eddie Kramer (Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin) and mixer Jim Scott (Tedeschi Trucks Band) deserve their own credit for the work behind the boards on this record.  It’s no wonder that Lickety Split bears significance to the Tedeschi Trucks Band with Scott on board.  If one didn’t know any better, one would think that one of the husband/wife duo of Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks was in fact guesting, hearing the guitar work throughout the record.  Though having fellow legend Carlos Santana on board, helping with guitar duties doesn’t hurt, either.  That bonus, and the work of everybody else involved on this record makes Lickety Split a must hear for any long-time Robert Randolph fan and for anyone that is new to the work of this highly accomplished musician and his family.  It will be available tomorrow, July 16th in stores and online. Audiences can keep an eye out for it in the official Robert Randolph online store at http://www.robertrandolph.net.  Fans can also go here and the band’s official Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/rrtfb and “Like” it to keep up with all of the latest news and tour information from the band.

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“Everybody’s Talkin'” will leave everybody talkin’

Derek Trucks has made quite the name for himself, both as a solo artist and with the members of the legendary Allman Brothers Band.  His wife, Susan Tedeschi, has equally made her own place in the music world.  The two together have made one heck of a mark.  The Tedeschi Trucks Band’s debut album, “Revelator” earned a Grammy for Best Blues Album at this year’s Grammys.  And now, the band has followed up its award winning debut album with its equally impressive live release, “Everybody’s Talkin’.”

“Everybody’s Talkin'” is one more wonderful addition to the ranks of this young year’s best releases.  It comes across as one giant jam fest from the first notes of the album’s title track to the last tones of the cover of the Staple Sisters’ ‘Wade in The Water.’  Susan Tedeschi is a powerhouse, yet again, as she belts out tune after tune.  Her vocals could easily rival those of fellow blues legend Bonnie Raitt.  And husband Derek Trucks’ guitar work proves once again why he is one of the best guitarists around today.  He really gets his time to shine on the breakout jam sessions on ‘Learn How to Love’, ‘Bound For Glory’ and the band’s cover of Stevie Wonder’s ‘Uptight’, which is arguablythehighlight of the whole compilation. This cover is one of the moments when the band’s brass section–Maurice Brown (Trumpet) and Saunders Sermon (Trombone)–really shines.  Saxophonist Kebbi Williamsand fellow Derek Trucks Band member, Kofi Burbridge also gets to showcase his talents.  He gets his moment on the live take of ‘Nobobdy’s Free.’  That’s another aspect of this release’s greatness.  Although the band is named after the husband/wife duo of Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks, the live performances included in this set allows the whole band its moment to shine.  And does it ever shine.  Every member of the band shows what makes TTB the amazing organization that it is.

Whether it be any of the aforementioned songs or any of the other amazing pieces included on this double disc set, “Everbody’s Talkin'” is hands down, one of the best records of 2012.  It’s one of the best live albums to come along in a long time, too.  Much like Miles Davis’ groundbreaking record, “Kind of Blue”, “Everybody’s Talkin'” is one of those releases that fans will be enjoying years from now.  It’s one of those works in which listeners could easily get lost in a good way.  That’s because it’s what one could call a “Multi-purpose record.”   What that means is that it’s one of those records that is perfect for a lazy summer day, relaxing in the sun (or in a sunroom), for a road trip, or a rainy evening.  It’s even great for a cold, grey snowy day to warm people’s moods.  Every song has a different mood that’s fitting for one situation or another.  It fits any situation and any type of day.  There simply is not one bad song on this live release.  That being the case, even as a live release, “Everybody’s Talkin'” is going to be one of those records that fans are going to remember years after its release.

The band is currently out on tour.  Fans in North Carolina will get to see the band live when it performs at the annual MerleFest next Saturday, April 28th in Wilkesboro.  For more information on the festival, fans can go to http://www.merlefest.org.  More information on the band and its tour is available on the band’s website, http://www.tedeschitrucksband.com, on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/DerekandSusan and on Twitter at http://twitter.com/DerekandSusan.

Tedeschi Trucks Band’s “Revelator” one of 2011’s best

It goes without saying that Suaan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks are two of the most well known and respected names in the music industry.  Trucks really came to fame when he joined southern rockers, The Allman Brothers Band.  Susan Tedeschi has made her own identity through her career with soaring vocals that could rival those of Bonnie Raitt, and equally impressive guitar work.  So it came as no surprise when this husband and wife blues duo joined forces to release their debut album under the Tedeschi Trucks Band moniker in June of this year.

The pair’s first teamup has produced quite the musical offspring.  Trucks brought along longtime Allman Brothers Band bassist, Oteil Burbridge.  Burbrige’s brother–who also happens to play with the Derek Trucks Band–Kofi also came along for the ride.  Together with a host of other musicians, the group has brought a multitude of influences, and infused them into the record to make what is one of the year’s best albums overall.

Most of the songs on “Revelator” are about either love gained or love lost.  In short, the lyircal theme of each song is one of romance.  But the album’s music more than makes up for that.  Not all of the songs instantly grip audiences.  But that’s actually a good thing.  Rather than simply hitting audiences on the first listen, “Revelator” grows on listeners each time it’s played.  That’s the sign of a great album.  That slow growth is thanks to the variety of influences from the variety of artists who came together on the album.  One of the songs that best exemplifies that slow growth is ‘Until You Remember’.  Now given, that song is another love song, lyrically.  But the music behind the song really gives a certain feeling to the lyrics.  Tedeschi sings on this song, “Every night I pray/that you’ll come back today/and hold me like you used to do…I’m sleeping wide awake/you know I can’t think straight about you…I’m burning with a love that’s turned blue”.  It goes without saying that it’s a song of lost love.  But the music makes up for the sappy lyrics by really giving life to those words.  It can also be said that this song is one on which Tedeschi’s vocals really soar.

Of course, while songs of love gained and lost are all over the album, there’s also a gospel style piece in ‘Bound for Glory’.  It’s such a catchy song, that it makes a person want to start clapping, like he/she was in church.  For those who want something more bluesy, “Revelator” offers plenty of that too.  Look no further than:  Don’t Let Me Slide’, ‘These Walls’, and the album’s opener, ‘Come See About Me’.  And for those who are really patient, “Revelator” offers an argument for owning the physical object over the digital in a hidden bonus track after the album’s closer, ‘Shelter’.  Audiences don’t have to wait long after ‘Shelter’ ends, either, for this track to start up.  And unlike the little instrumental break of ‘Shrimp and Grits’, it offers fans a full length blues instrumental song.

Whether it be for that bonus song, or the outstanding mix of song styles brought together on this opus, fans of both Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks have been given quite the musical treat with “Revelator”.  Mainstream success or not, it goes without saying that this album is one of the top albums of 2011.  And it’s one of the best blues albums to come along in a very long time.