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Published: 2002/12/22
by Brad Weiner

Flyin’ High – Professor Louie and the Crowmatix

Woodstock Records 4010

Many records have a noticeable imprint of a recording of the past.
Professor Louie and the Crowmatix sounds exactly like The Band, but far more
polished and perfected. The influence isn't hidden, since several members of
the classic 60's combo assisted on the record and Professor Louie himself
was a member of The Band in its post Last Waltz years. Levon Helm and
Danko both wrote tunes on Flyin’ High and Garth Hudson arranged and
piano on seven of the 11 tracks. Not that I'm complaining. This record
sounds as if Big Pink has become a modern, digital studio.

The tunes are all creative and have interesting choruses and there are
dozens of instrumental colors painted all over the place. The most classic
Band sound is found in the frequent use of rickety upright saloon pianos
instead of brightly tuned baby grands. Some other instruments include
accordion, mandolin, bass, drums, slide guitar, trombone, sax and trumpet.
Flyin’ High pulls dozens of musicians into the studio to make a rich
sounding piece of art.

My one complaint is that it sometimes sounds too perfect. The magic
of great roots albums is that they could easily be recorded in the living
rooms of our heroes. Professor Louie's crew rehearsed way too much to give
the impression of spontaneity. Regardless, this album could easily become a
classic in underground roots rock circles. The vocals are absolutely
stunning with crystal clear harmonies and emotional crescendos.

"Nashville Blues" is pretty clichand doesn't deliver the same
level of soul as the tunes that aren't trying to be blues. There is also a
version of "Jack-A-Roe" that is so upbeat and bouncy it loses its
seriousness as a traditional song.

Flyin’ High is a great reminder of how great music can sound
inside a studio as long as the songs are good and played with a little
gusto. It is truly worth the purchase, especially if you want to see what
the Robertson-less Band has been doing with their time.

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