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Published: 2013/08/25
by Brian Robbins

The Rides
Can't Get Enough

429 Records

Although The Rides’ frontline of Stephen Stills, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, and Barry Goldberg is touted on the front cover of their debut Can’t Get Enough, drummer Chris “Whipper” Layton and bassist Kevin McCormick play no small role in the sound that truly makes this band deserve the “supergroup” tag. These five players are a wicked band, pure and simple.

That having been said, Can’t Get Enough features some of the most fiery guitar playing and powerful vocals that Stephen Stills has delivered in a studio setting in a long time. Stills has always risen to the occasion when he has had another great picker to bounce off of (Neil Young, Jimi Hendrix, and Eric Clapton, to name a few) and Kenny Wayne Shepherd is no exception.

Shepherd found his blues voice a long time ago with a style that pays homage to his heroes but is his own just the same. On Can’t Get Enough Shepherd’s guitar work is a cool combination of fierceness and taste, while Stills plays as if his very life depended on it – listen to the psychedelic six-stringed squall at the 4:00 mark of the opener “Mississippi Road House” if you doubt it at all.

Or put an ear to the title tune: Shepherd lays down a brilliant solo in the belly of the song that ranges from voodoo swirl to Chesterfield smoke-saturated 1 AM blues – a great performance in anybody’s book. But it’s Stills’ performance after the final chorus that is the mind-blower, beginning with a crazy-assed string bend that will have you believing you’re actually hearing the sound of a tube amp blowing up … but if it did, it held on for another minute of perfect Strat roar and bellow.

Stills himself roars and bellows plenty vocally, as well. Whatever toll the years of hard living and his problems with hearing loss have taken, Stills sounds strong here, including a passionate run through ol’ buddy Neil’s “Rockin’ In The Free World”. Shepherd, meanwhile, brings home the goods with lead vocals on covers that range from solid blues classics (“Talk To Me Baby”, “Honey Bee”) to the roots punk of The Stooges’ “Search And Destroy”. Many of the covers on this album are surprises; nonetheless, they all work – and The Rides own them by the time they’re done.

Goldberg (who shares writing credits on the album’s originals with Shepherd and Stills) proves himself to be a class-act veteran on keys: maintaining a presence throughout the album while patrolling the sector between the melody up front and the Layton/McCormick underpinnings. Dig his work on Muddy Waters’ “Honey Bee”, leading things in with some fine, fine, fine barroom ivory work and delivering a massive-sounding organ solo later in the tune’s jam.

Yeah, there’s been some hype about this one coming down the pike – the good news is, the hype is the truth: the arrival of The Rides is good news for a lot of reasons. Word has it they already have another album’s worth of tunes to lay down later this year.

Bring it on.

*****

Brian Robbins sits by the tube amp’s glow over at www.brian-robbins.com

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