Album review: ROYAL SOUTHERN BROTHERHOOD – Songs From The Road

Ruf [Release date 18.11.13]

Royal Southern Brotherhood ‘Songs From the Road’ cements their place as one of the most essential live experiences in 2013. From their self titled debut album to their incendiary live shows, it’s been a long time since a band packed so much musical talent and more importantly fulfilled its potential.

Whether you buy into the supergroup tag or not, this is a band that somehow delivers night after night. And while there’s simply so much talent for it not to be so, the on stage vibe is there for all to see. RSB go back to the basics of collective writing (but in different configurations) and then touring the hell out of it.

Fronted by the charismatic Cyril Neville on vocals and feverish percussion and powered by brilliant rhythm section of Yonrico Scott and Charlie Wooten on bass, they offer an open invitation for the guitarist and award wining songwriter Mike Zito to cut lose in the company of his long term buddy Devon Allman.

Subtitled ‘Live in Germany’ this CD/DVD double pack offers you both the complete audio experience of the band and a multi camera shoot from the German Rockpalast TV show. Everything gels superbly well on the percussive opening of the Wooten/Neville penned and aptly titled ‘Fired U!’ The audio version makes you aware of the band’s essential rhythmic quality, from Devon’s rhythm guitar parts to the way they all effortless slip into a solo.

This is also a band with great songs, as evidenced by Mike Zito’s slice of Americana on ‘Hurts My Heart’ full of strident harmonies and elemental riffs, and his love song ‘Ways About You’. The Allman/Neville penned ‘Gotta Keep Rockin’ is a baritone voiced anthem for the band and there’s also New Orleans funky soul too as Cyril adds his exquisite vocals on ‘Moonlight Over The Mississippi’ and his own lascivious ‘Sweet Jelly Donut’.

If you’ve got the studio album there are no surprises here and for that reason alone, this double pack just misses out on the full five stars. But the band still keeps everything fresh, with some sparkling interplay and their essential connection with a crowd that generously responds to the band’s inspired playing.

The key moment of the night comes on the extended sub-reggae jam of ‘Fire On the Mountain’ which combines all the essential elements of the band in the Grateful Dead song and offers the closest they get to the Allman Brothers style with chiming guitars and intricate ensemble playing. Once again it brings a great response from the crowd.

It’s hard to believe that this album was recorded by an outfit still in its relative infancy – albeit they’ve toured the States relentlessly leading into this European tour. But you need only listen to the harmonies on the signature ‘New Horizons’ and the celebratory ‘All Around The World’ to realise this is a special band with vibrant material, three part harmonies and great playing.

They surprise the crowd with a gloriously ragged intro to the Stones ‘Gimme Shelter’, confirming that not only are they the kings of funk blues and soul, but they also rock out too, with one of their most surprising influences.

A live album inevitably has the feel of a stop-gap, but if you haven’t already got their debut studio album, this is a perfect audio visual introduction to one of the great band of the new era. The DVD comes with a bonus track ‘Sweet Little Angel’ which finds Mike on a flying V, wigging out with Devon, and the only disappointment is the low volume levels on the soundtrack, though that might just be my machine!

There’s also a brief interview explaining the history of the band and a lovely unplugged percussive jam of ‘Fired Up!’ suggesting they love to have fun while on tour. Very sensibly the extended bass and drum solos are included as a separate bonus track. You could argue it’s sensible because even though the solos are extraordinary, you can’t hit the bar when watching it at home.

The Royal Southern brotherhood promises a rock and roll blood line and they don’t disappoint, the band is the glorious sum of its parts on a superbly filmed DVD. ****1/2

Review by Pete Feenstra

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In this show, first broadcast on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio on 2 February 2020, David Randall plays a selection of tracks from some of the artists who impressed at this year’s Giants Of Rock event in Minehead (24-27 January).

Featured Albums w/c 17 February (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 NEWMAN Ignition (AOR Heaven)
12:00-13:00 BLACK SWAN Shake The World (Frontiers)
14:00-16:00 CORMAC O CAOIMH Swim Crawl Walk Run (indie)

Power Plays w/c 17 February (Mon-Fri)

SHAKRA Turn The Light On (AFM Records)
THE NIGHT FLIGHT ORCHESTRA Transmissions (Nuclear Blast)
RYDERS CREED Lost Soul (Off Yer Rocka Recordings)
FRAMING HANLEY Puzzle Pieces (Thermal Entertainment LLC)
ROBERT HART Mysterious (Escape Music)

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