Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Robert Randolph & The Family Band - Lickety Split

Pedal Power

This is a funked-up, lively offering. Opener Amped Up is self-explanatory, and has delightful echoes of Prince in its excitement, whilst second Born Again begins with superlative bass lines and Randolf’s pedal steel before launching into another echo, this time holding up a melodic mirror as it runs along the lines of Stephen Still’s Love The One Your With and awaits, presumably, the serving of a plagiarism writ. Third New Orleans mixes an Hawaiian tinge into the pedal steel whilst adding injections of rap, and the eclecticism is established.

Fourth Take the Party is perhaps more New Orleans in overall sound than its predecessor with those horns, vocal shouts and soulful chorus, but it is Randolf’s scorching pedal steel that whips and wheels about most distinctively. The most funked-up funked-up track is fifth Brand New Wayo which is more instrumental than most, and not surprisingly as it features a blistering duet with Carlos Santana as well as virtuoso bass from Danyel Morgan.

There’s more from Carlos on Black Joe, a slower track where the fire is oddly doused by the blandness of the melody and the dirge of the singing. A strange aberration continued, unfortunately, in repetitive follower Love Rollercoaster where the empathetic heights are not attained.

Ninth All American returns strongly again in Prince mode. Tenth Get Ready is Randolf’s pedal steel assailing that instrument’s and his playing’s impressive heights, segueing into and out again from a gospel interjection. Superb. Penultimate Welcome Home has some beautiful soul singing with harmony, and the pedal steel whirls around within to weave that traditional sound to its own distinctiveness. The album closes on The Rascal’s Good Lovin’, a great song given an appropriate upbeat performance and sounding so similar to Born Again which sounds like - well, you know - it has got me wondering if Stills was ever or should still be looking over his own mirroring shoulder.

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