The Derek Trucks Band: Roadsongs

RIYL: Eric Clapton, The Allman Brothers Band, Ryan Bingham & the Dead Horses

The Derek Trucks Band is finally giving way to the overdue and inevitable Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi Band (the pair married in 2001), which perhaps means the end of the road for this phase of Trucks’ career. Trucks is an amazing slide guitar talent and this is a top-rate band, but the highlights are here and there, whereas just about every song with the new Trucks/Tedeschi band is pure magic. But the foundation for the greatness of the Trucks and Tedeschi group comes from what the DTB has been laying down for the past decade. If this is it for the DTB, Roadsongs is a great swan song – it documents what a hot band this has been, while also whetting the appetite for the new band.

A top highlight is a sweet 14-minute jam on jazz standard “Afro Blue,” which serves notice on how Trucks is not just a blues master but quite the jazzman as well. There’s great flute work from keyboardist Kofi Burbridge and fantastic jazzy blues riffing from Trucks. Tunes like “Already Free” and “Down in the Flood” from the DTB’s most recent studio album crackle with energy and sweet licks on that slide guitar. Another major highlight is the sensational pairing of “Get Out My Life Woman/Who Knows,” which opens with a fabulously dirty funk groove and deeply soulful vocals from Mike Mattison before segueing into a sick jam on the Band of Gypsys classic. This track has it all – deep electric piano/organ from Burbridge in a Herbie Hancock and the Headhunters style, strong harmony vocals, a monster groove from bassist Todd Smallie and drummer Y’Onrico Scott, and Trucks tearing it up as he blends Duane Allman with Jimi Hendrix.

“Down Don’t Bother Me No More” and “Get What You Deserve” also feature hot bluesy jams, as do most of the tracks. Eric Clapton/Derek & the Dominoes covers of “Anyday” and “Key to the Highway” display the band’s love for and skill with the early ’70s classic rock for which Trucks was named, but they also highlight the DTB’s ceiling. Once you’ve witnessed the uplifting “Anyday” performed with Tedeschi and Mattison sharing the vocals, hearing it without Tedeschi just isn’t the same. It still rocks for sure, but you want more. And that sums up this album – the DTB is dishing out some of the best blues rock available these days, but adding Tedeschi just takes the whole sound to a higher dimension. Still, this is high quality stuff. (Sony Legacy 2010)

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