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Columns > Dan Alford - Audio Files

Published: 2002/05/22
by Dan Alford

Soulive

Thoughts:
If you havent caught the re-release of The Bands The Last Waltz on the big screen, turn off the computer and go see it. If you would drive two hours to go see a show, then feel absolutely obligated to drive at least that long if you have to in order to see this film. Yeah, youve seen the video, and you can rent the DVD from your local, independent video rental store, but you need the big screen. You also need the enormous digital sound system at your local theater to see it as it was meant to be seen. That back-lit, larger than life Rick Danko during Stage Fright is worth the price of gas and admission alone, and thats just one of the many Scorsese moments thatll make you drool. Im not even gonna mention the Helpless

In fact, music movies have been much in my mind of late, so count on an upcoming Audio Files to focus on the panoply of DVDs, both new and old, that give something to stare at while you rock out. Until then, keep in touch with comments or contributions, be they full reviews or some Quick Picks.

Also, keep an eye open for Audio Files B&P offers on the Jambands.com Tape Trade Board. Over the past month both the Soulive show reviewed below and 10-20-01 have been offered. The next offer will be up soon after this months issue is published.

Quick Picks From the Disc Changer:
1) SKB, 2-2-02, Disc 1- Tongue n Groove opener. This is the best!
2) Sector 9, 4-3-01, Disc 1- Evasive Maneuvers
3) Trey, 2-26-01, Disc 1- This ones been in the changer for 2 months now. Cant get enough.
4) GD, Dicks Picks 16 (11-8-69), Disc 1- Schoolgirl opener and a killer Easy Wind. The Pig is on fire.
5) Dylan & The Band, Before the Flood, Disc 1- Fantastic Ballad of a Thin Man, Dixie Down & Stage Fright. A fine 1974 double disc release.
Discman: Ratdog, 2-23-02, Disc 3- Dear Prudence > Jam > Cassidy > Saturday Nite. With Logic on the space tables!

Music:

Note: For more thoughts on the recent changes in Soulive, check out my review of Aprils Apollo show. http://www.jambands.com/ShowReviews/content_2002_04_29.00.phtml

Soulive @ Temple Bar, Santa Monica, CA 12-15-01
Onstage KM140 (rt at lip of B3, 4 high) > Snake+mono soundboard > Mackie 1202VLZ > Apogee AD500e (recorded by Mike Pacifici)

Disc 1: Steppin, Cannonball, 1 in 7, Azucar, Hurry Up
Disc 2: Uncle Junior, Its Your Thing, Lenny > Turn It Out

There is something about the high hat in Als intro to Steppin that bounces in just the right way, letting you know that this shows gonna be a smoker. Neals layer is added; the synth bass is deep and clean. While many people focus exclusively on Sams contributions when discussing the change in Soulives sound, the change in Neals instrumentation should not be overlooked. The low end on the B-3 was so warm and fuzzy, it swelled up beneath the leads and even Als drums- it swelled up below the whole room. The synth bass, on the other hand, plays very distinct notes, and each one packs a wallop. About seven and a half minutes into this groove, just into the Janet section, the left hand starts pounding out this great line- you could swear there was a bass player on stage. I dont think I ever thought that with the B-3. It really makes you appreciate just how complex a process is going on in Neals mind while the mans ass rises off the seat. At 11 minutes, the trio hits the short breakdown passage that was added last fall and settles in to close out the song.

Sam joins for a Cannonball that keeps the energy at a very high plateau. There is a nicely layered jam early on that revolves around Eric and Neal. Krazs rhythm work here is vicious, but it blends perfectly with long organ streaks- really excellent jamming. Sam lets loose on his first solo, blowing a barrage of sharp notes that is eventually usurped by Neal, who leads into the return theme.

Rounding out disc one is a pleasantly calm Azucar and a hoppin Hurry Up. Neals early B-3 work on the former is very, very fuzzy, so much so that its a surprise when he cleans it up at the start of Erics meandering stroll. Its great to see this traditionally under-played strut make such a strong comeback in recent set lists.

The latter tune has become a favorite of late. It is a fantastic show case piece for Sam, but its far from just another blowin session. Neal and Sam tentatively stumble to the intro. As Soulive has matured, theyve reached a new level of sophistication that has allowed them to loosen up and add a jazzier feel to their music. But like the professional groove demons they are, they can also tighten it up at just the right moment and bring it home clean. Whats most appealing about Hurry Up, though, is the level of interplay from the whole band. The first jam has Eric racing around Neals crispy bass, while the second has the Evans brothers locking onto a beat and providing a solid foundation for Sam to let loose. The alto finds any number of distinct statements to toy with, and ties them all together to create a wonderfully cohesive paragraph. Suddenly Neal and Kraz are gone and Sam and Al lay it out, crushing the groove. There is an amazing line that flies up and down scales just before the organ and guitar explode back onto scene. Sam carries it right through to the end as his band mates try to keep up. This joint is so big, you may be tempted to not even put on the second disc. Of course then you would miss out on a smoking Uncle Junior- a song that only gets better with age.

Youd also miss out on the closing Lenny > Turn It Out. The SRV tribute is smooth and emotive as Eric slides along the narrow curves, flaring up every now and again. Staying at the forefront, his noodling leads Neal to the set-up for TIO. Sam harmonizes with Neals leads through the composition, and then with Erics leads for a short transition into the first organ solo. At the mid-song shift, Alan grabs the mic for a Uh-uh! Soulive! Hell Yeah! chant that pushes the whole group to a fiery climax. Its fair to say that I really know my Soulive, and I also think its fair to say this is one of (if not the) very best shows with Sam as a full time member of the band. Check it out.

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