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Issue 1089

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Review

Royal Southern Brotherhood: Songs From The Road (Ruf Records) 9th Dec

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9

6.1

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UK release date 09.12.2013

This so-called US Supergroup are quite simply, one of the most exciting live bands on the blues circuit and festival scene across the USA and Europe right now â bar none. OK, they have some famous surnames peppered across the line-up, but just because you may have Royal genes does not guarantee that the talent was passed down a generation.

Well in the case of Devon ALLMAN and Cyril NEVILLE, it most certainly was. Add to those dynasties, the audacious talents of Mike Zito, Charlie Wooton and one of the best drummers I have ever seen/heard; Yonrico Scott, and you have a blindingly great line-up that makes up a blindingly great band.

The latest in the Ruf Records âSongs From The Roadâ series captures RSB perfectly, live on stage on this two-disc album and DVD package. There's not been a duffer as yet in this series - which has included Joanne Shaw Taylor, Jeff Healey, Savoy Brown, and Luther Allison - and this is the star of the set so far for me. Recorded at the Crossroads Festival in Bonn, Germany in October last year, and it caught the band at their sizzling best. An electric atmosphere that the listener can almost taste. Tearing it up for the legendary Rockpalast TV show. Kicking off the set with âFired Up,â and the band were just that. "Fired up and ready to goâ¦â¦..â The audio quality for a live album is perfect, and is the sixth member of the band on this recording. A dozen tracks on the album, including band introductions and a dozen on the DVD - plus a bonus interview and an unplugged version of âFired Up.â

The boys just came over here to storm some headline shows and festivals, including Bluesfest at London's iconic Royal Albert Hall and were recorded for broadcast on Paul Jonesâ Blues Show on BBC Radio 2. This album does not sound like a band that only got together in the summer of 2010, and have dropped just one studio album so far. The chemistry here is palapable and you can tell that each member spurs the others on to pull a big fat white rabbit from the top hat at every gig. Having seen these guys in Manchester last year, I cannot over-state how bloody good they are live. Imagine The Stones on speed with a stick of Semtex up their rear ends, a year or two after they first got together. When they did it because they loved it, and not for a huge bank transfer and to appease wealthy sponsors!

Devon is on fire on slide guitar, Cyril nails the groove on percussion and delivers his wonderfully soulful vocals, as only a Neville Brother can. Yonrico is deep in the pocket and Charlie not so much nails the bottom end, as welds the bugger to the stage. All of the guys share vocals, and no one person is trying to be THE star hogging the spotlight. That's partly why it works so well. This is very much a band and these are literally brothers. But letâs not forget the strength of their material. This ain't no covers band folks. All of the guys are master craftsmen when it comes to writing songs, and these songs fit this band like a glove. They throw in a little soul, a chunk of funk, some raw blues, a large pinch of Southern rock and mix it all up to become a very, very tasty spicy gumbo. It sounds like no other band out there. RSB sound like RSB. Even when they give us a belting cover of the Stonesâ classic "Gimme Shelter." Which for me is probably the best thing Mick, Keef and the chaps ever did. RSB put their stamp on it here, and having heard this live from them, I recommend you hear it soon too.


They have a hotly anticipated second studio CD due to drop next year, and have made many friends over here since their 2012 debut album. Nice guys too, and getting lots of TLC from label boss Thomas Ruf, who takes a long term view with this band (I know this, because he told me so!) and realises they have could have massive potential longevity and the ability to grow new audiences in new territories as word spreads. The relationship between band and label boss is pretty much a solid partnership and a mutual respect. This live album and DVD can only strengthen the cause. If you heard the Tedeschi Trucks Band's fantastic live album "Everybody's Talkin," last year on Sony, this is just about as good in terms of quality and capturing a band at their exciting best.

As Devon says: âWe really came into this and threw all the egos aside. This was about making something greater than the individual parts. I mean, everybody hopes they can do a band like this. Itâs been a dream come trueâ¦â
Words SIMON REDLEY

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