Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Royal Southern Brotherhood Get Rocking Hard

Royal Southern Brotherhood (RSB) is a 'supergroup' comprised of Cyril Neville, Devon Allman, Mike Zito, Charlie Wooten and Yontico Scott. It has been booked and played at a variety of music (including blues) festivals and as I write this its eponymously titled Ruf Records debut is high on the Billboard Blues charts although to these ears this is a rock record, with very little blues on it. However one classifies RSB does not go to the quality of the music and the music on this is excellent.

The hard-hitting New Horizon musically evokes the Rolling Stones’ rendition of Harlem Shuffle as Cyril takes the lead vocal about a new day dawning and at the crossroads where one chooses peace over politics with some hard rocking guitar with nice interplaying between Zito and Allman. It is followed by the Santana-like groove of Fired Up!, a celebration about a woman who can make Cyril feel higher than low. Devon Allman takes the lead on his wistful Left My Heart in Memphis, with his vocal and the band exhibiting a fine sense of musical dynamics.

The lyric to Moonlight Over the Mississippi by Zito and Neville incorporates some blues songs and lyrics. I presume that it is Zito taking the marvelous and soulful vocal and there is some strong guitar playing. Fire on the Mountain incorporates a lazy island groove while Ways About You is a terrific bluesy Zito performance of a break-up song as his woman was singing about freedom sing their love was first cast with some nicely shaped blues-rock guitar (and again exhibiting some terrific interplay between Zito and Allman. Allman and Neville collaborated on Got to Keep Rockin’, a driving hard rock number, while Hurt My Heart has an Allman Brothers feel and a lyric about homelessness, rich people in their mansion and how things hurts his heart. Neville’s Sweet Jelly Donut, is a straight blues with an amusing lyric that allows Cyril to talk about taking her to some of his favorite New Orleans haunts while the band gets into a rocking groove.

A hot instrumental Brotherhood closes this impressive hard rocking recording. This is a terrific contemporary band that brings together a wide range of musical influences together including blues, southern rock, soul country and more. With three vocalists who leave strong impressions on the listeners, two fine guitarists and a solid rhythm section, they have produced a debut album that will make people take notice. The eponymous debut by Royal Southern Brotherhood is not a blues album anymore than it is a ragtime album. This does not change the fact that it is a terrific recording.

I received my review copy from a publicist. Here is a video for the song New Horizon.

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