14 tracks/61:05 running time
Celebrated guitarist Arlen Roth’s latest album offering is a virtual primer for the current state of practitioners of the art of slide guitar. This collaboration includes nine, (count ‘em, nine) skilled summiteers in the disciplines of slide, lap steel and rhythm guitars.
The production is anchored around the memory of (and dedicated to) guitar giant Johnny Winter who’s contribution was one of his last recording sessions. Hence, Roth writes in the liner notes, “This album is dedicated to the memory of the late great JOHNNY WINTER, who was an inspiration to us all. Thank you Johnny, for being a part of this project that is so close to my heart.
The album also boasts appearances by Sonny Landreth, Lee Roy Parnell, Cindy Cashdollar, David Lindley, Greg Martin, Jack Pearson, Rick Vito and Jimmy Vivino. Roth’s song selection is stellar, combining writers from the Pop canon ; Acker Bilt, Laura Nyro, Smokey Robinson, Jackie Brenston and Lowell George with Country; Jimmie Rodgers, Blues; Robert Johnson, Professor Longhair and Western Swing; Leon McAuliffe. Mr. Roth also includes a couple of original compositions.
The opening track “Do What’s Right,” penned and sung by Allman Brothers Band Alum Jack Pearson sets a good rockin’ tone for what is to come. Robert Johnson’s “Dust My Broom” embellishes the Elmore James mold, recasting it with a double dose of slide for a driving, point and counterpoint effect. “Sonny Skies” written by Roth in deference to the great Sonny Landreth who also plays on the track. evokes along with the similarly themed “Stranger On The Shore,” that Santo & Johnny early Rock & Roll, lap steel feel.
Other standout tracks include the traditional “Poor Boy Blues” with vocal by Jimmy Vivino, Roth and Rick Vito’s suprising take on the Motown grinder, “You Really Got A Hold On Me. David Lindley and Roth do credible work on Professor Longhair’s “Her Mind Is Gone.” “Amazing Grace” with Greg Martin lends a spiritual touch to the proceedings.
Other players rounding out the participating musicians are Producer Tom Hambridge on drums on tracks 1 ,2, 6, 9, 10, 12 and 14. Shannon Ford and Tyger MacNeal contribute drums on racks 3 and 4 respectively. Tommy McDonald plays bass on tracks 1 ,2 ,6, 9, 10, 12 and 14. Scott Spray plays bass on track 5. Eddie Denise plays upright bass on tracks 3 & 4. He plays bass guitar on track 11. On track 6 Kevin McKendree lends piano support along with backup vocals by Bob & Etta Britt.
Speaking of vocals, a nice touch might’ve been to have Johnny Winter sing the vocal on “Rocket 88.”