Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Lil' Band O' Gold Leads Us to "The Promised Land"

“I won’t leave Louisiana, Louisiana my home sweet home,” echoes a line in David Egan’s “Spoonbread,” the opening song on “The Promised Land” (Dust Devil Music), the new album by Lil’ Band ‘O Gold. Lil’ Band ‘O Gold is a group formed by some very notable Louisiana musicians including guitarist and roots rocker CC Adcock; Cajun accordionist Steve Riley; swamp-pop legend and drummer Warren Storm; and pianist and songwriter David Egan. Add steel guitar, and saxophones (with occasional fiddle) and one has a group that can touch on the blue-eyed soul that is at Swamp Pop’s heart mixed with some Fats Domino piano triplets and some swamp country seasoning. The album accompanies the film of the same title about the distinctive Louisiana musical genre, swamp pop which I haven’t seen, but it also provides fans of Lil’ Band ‘O Gold with a new recording that showcases their versatile repertoire and compelling sources. With a band that includes steel guitar and saxophones, the performances provide a definite musical stew of influences that make for a wonderful musical blend.

I would not be surprised that in a blindfold test, an average listener might identify the opening “Spoonful,” as a number by the Band, but its such a terrific performance with vocals being traded and great backing that it stands on its own. Next up is a great number by the late Bobby Charles “I Don’t Want to Know,” with Warren Storm’s vocal almost matching the Late Johnny Adams as Riley adds a terrific accordion solo with Richard Comeaux contributing some piercing steel guitar. C.C. Adcock revives a Gene Terry & the Boogie Ramblers rockabilly-tinged “Teardrops,” while Riley, accordion at the fore handles the vocal on a rocker with Adcock adding some hot guitar riffs with the saxophones wailing in support.

“Dreamer” is another Egan original with the steel guitar, the rhythm and the saxophones injecting some Tex-Mex flavor to Egan’s reflective vocals. Warren Storm’s vocal shines on the country flavored “Sunshine,” that was penned by the great Mickey Newbury. Adcock penned the hard rock and rolling “Runaway’s Life,” that evokes classic 50s music with an insistent driving beat followed by Warren’s wonderful haunting rendition of David Kitt’s ballad “Faster and Faster.” “Hold on Tight” “to your dreams,” Steve Riley sings (including the verse in French) as his accordion and Kenny Bill Stinson’s organ suggest the Sir Douglas Quintet in this imaginative reworking of an Electric Light Orchestra single. “Hard Enough,” another Egan original is a superb old-fashioned piece of country soul with Storm’s vocal complemented by Comeaux’s weeping steel guitar. Swamp pop legend Tommy McClain guests on the tear-in-the-throat vocal on the low-key “Memories,” while Riley revives Lawrence Walker’s cajun rock and roll, “Evangeline Rock. More country-folk flavor from Adcock on “The Last Hayride,” before the closing “So Long,” a nice rendering of an Allen Toussaint composition, with Storm leading the way on the vocal with the braying saxophones and the backing chorus adding to the mood. It is a terrific closer to a superb recording.

It has been a decade since Lil’ Band ‘O Gold’s debut recording, which has been frankly ten years too long. They are truly one of the great rock and roll bands today and “The Promised Land,” is a superb disk that continues their loving embrace of the musical legacy of their home, Louisiana which never gets mired in nostalgia but keeps pushing the music forward.

This is available in the United States from the Louisiana Music Factory in New Orleans (website is I am not certain about availability outside the US, but it may be on itunes in Australia.

I purchased this.

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