The Slide Brothers review…Feb. 19, 2013…

ROBERT RANDOLPH PRESENTS:

THE SLIDE BROTHERS

CONCORD RECORDS  CRE  34262-02

DON’T KEEP ME WONDERIN’–MY SWEET LORD–SUNDAY SCHOOL BLUES–WADE IN THE WATER–PRAISE YOU (feat. Shemekia Copeland)–IT HURTS ME TOO–CATCH THAT TRAIN–MOTHERLESS  CHILDREN–HELP ME MAKE IT THROUGH–THE SKY IS CRYING–NO CHEAP SEATS IN HEAVEN

 

Robert Randolph and the Family Band burst on the scene in 2003 with their album “Unclassified,” presenting the “sacred steel” guitar to the secular world.   Born of the church, the sacred steel has been used in services in the House Of God Church since the 1930’s, and, thru the efforts of players such as Randolph, has brought this music to the world.

 

Besides Randolph, there are several well-known sacred steel players, and, with “Robert Randolph Presents The Slide Brothers,” on the Concord label, he brings together four of the very best.  They are Calvin Cooke, Aubrey Ghent, and brothers Chuck and Darick Campbell, each of whom brings a unique perspective to this time-honored tradition.

There are eleven cuts on this set, a mix of songs that are traditional gospel spirituals as well as songs that are identified with blues artists.  The players are a literal “who’s who” in the field of sacred steel.  Calvin Cooke has earned the nickname, “the B. B. King of gospel steel guitar” for his prowess, while the Campbell brothers take a more contemporary approach to their playing.  As evidence, check out the leadoff “Don’t Keep Me Wonderin,” with their searing twin lead lines over Calvin’s vocals.  Aubrey Ghent has been preaching since the age of twenty, thru both his words and music, and maintains a more traditional approach to his playing.

 

This collection crosses several boundaries, and the players segue’ into both gospel and blues with ease.  On “My Sweet Lord,” Aubrey Ghent adds a fine bit of spoken-word “testifyin’ over the Campbell’s lead work, with lead vocals from Jimmy Carter of the Blind Boys Of Alabama.  Fatboy Slim’s “Praise You” features not only Robert and Marcus Randolph on some spaced-out steel, but Marcus adds dobro over Shemekia Copeland’s feverish vocals.

 

Calvin Cooke handles lead vocals on two straight-on blues cuts, “It Hurts Me Too” and “The Sky Is Crying,” featuring Robert Randolph and Chuck Campbell on the deep slide runs, Chris Layton on drums, and Nashville legend Billy Cox on bass.

 

We had two favorites, too.  All these great players play with the intent that the steel guitar becomes like a second “voice,” and this is particularly evident on the traditional “Motherless Children,” and the all-instrumental “Wade In The Water,” with the Campbells again sharing guitar duties and bringing to mind an old-fashioned tent revival or camp meeting.

 

It is not only wonderful to see these greats of the sacred steel tradition, spanning several generations, coming together in a “summit meeting,” of sorts, but also to show how, in their skilled hands, the gospel and the blues can indeed peacefully coexist.  Enjoy the brilliance of “Robert Randolph Presents: The Slide Brothers!”  Until next time….Sheryl and Don Crow.

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