Album review

Royal Southern Brotherhood 

Songs From The Road

added: 24 Dec 2013 // release date: 9 Dec 2013 // label: Ruf
reviewer: Andy Snipper

Royal Southern Brotherhood - Songs From The Road - Printable version
The latest in Ruf’s ‘From The Road’ series and another storming success. True Southern royalty with one of the Allman tribe, a Neville, Yontoco Scott (who seems to have played with everybody), Charlie Wooton (ditto) and the current king of the South, Mike Zito.

From the opening chords of ‘Fired Up’ this is a storming delight that shows just what people missed who weren’t lucky enough to catch them on their UK and European tour this year.

The twin guitars of Devon Allman and Mike Zito perfectly match Cyril Neville’s vocals and with Yonrico Scott pounding the drums and Neville weighing in on congas the groove is intense from the kick off, Charlie Wooton’s fluid and jazzy bass just drives the funk deeper and more intense.

The straight-line rock of ‘Hurts My Heart’ still cooks and introduces a country-esque vocal that shows off Zito’s voice alongside Neville’s along with some stunning guitar from Allman.
‘Moonlight Over The Mississippi’ is swampy and dense from the get go. Dark and moody, it is even better live than on record (and the album version is stunning) Cyrille Neville’s vocal is great and it features the two guitars in perfect harmony before leading into a soulful ‘Left My Heart In Memphis’ with a fine vocal from Devon Allman.
For my money their version of ‘Fire On The Mountain’ actually adds something to the Grateful Dead’s original and shows just how great a jamming band this lot can become. The song is a great platform for improvisation but if the band is too tight it can sound rather bland – not here: the band have the chops and the intuition to make the song an extended jam that holds to the theme without getting stuck in one place.

The band cover all the different strands of ‘southern’ music from Blues to soul with strong touches of latin and hard funk and all of thiose strands are covered here – a real something for everyone.
As with all the better ‘supergroups’ the concept only works if the band are working as a band rather than just showing off the individual talents of the members and this is one case where the band are completely in tune with each other, playing with and for the band as a whole.

The gig was recorded for Rockpalast in Germany and there is a fine vibe flowing between the band and the crowd which actually comes over better on the CD than on the DVD but the images with the music make the DVD portion of the disc essential – it has been the case on almost all of the series but here you really gain from seeing the playing of the two guitarists and the bands interplay adds immeasurably to the music.

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4 stars

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