Big Al & the Heavyweights – Love One Another
VizzTone Label Group VT-BA-01
14 songs – 60 minutes
One of the hardest working and most beloved bands in America, percussionist Big Al Lauro and his Heavyweights reunite with former bandmate Jason Ricci and team with North Mississippi Allstar Luther Dickinson as they deliver an hour-long, all-original set of tunes that intersperse positive themes with others that look at the underside of love and life in the modern world.
Once known as the Unknown Blues Band, the Heavyweights came into being in 1996 when Lauro and future Govt. Mule and Allman Brothers guitarist Warren Haynes were bandmates in David Allen Coe’s touring band and joined forces with Sweethearts of the Rodeo keyboard player Rick Gergen as a side project. Based out of New Orleans, their lineup has changed multiple times through the years, but one thing remains consistent: their ability to deliver the goods every time they take the stage.
The current iteration of the Heavyweights features Marcel Anton on guitar and lead vocals alongside Louisiana Music Hall of Fame keyboard player Wayne Lohr and bassist Mark Parsons, both of whom sing, too. This is the seventh album in their catalog, mixing blues, country and a heaping helping of Big Easy funk.
Recorded at Suite Mix Studios in Slidell, La., the lineup’s augmented with Ricci on harp, Dickinson on guitar along with Tom Larson on percussion, Gina Forsyth on fiddle and Dana Abbott on backing vocals. It was co-produced by the band in association with George Curreau, best known for his work with the Funky Meters.
The title cut, “Love One Another,” opens the action featuring Ricci and insisting that folks have to work together to overcome adversity or else we’re doomed to failure, laying down a swamp-blues foundation for what’s ahead. aided by red-hot harp runs from Ricci. Lohr’s work on the 88s and Anton’s fretwork shine in “I Need a Fix,” a driving, straight-ahead shuffle that describes someone hooked on love, but in desperate need of a hook-up.
The Southern rocker “Sweet Louise” is up next and pays tribute to a “big tease,” a fiery red auto that frequently leaves the owner standing at the side of the road – a feeling that evaporates every time he sits behind the wheel. The funk kicks in for the percussive “Wild Tchoupitoulas,” which describes a lady born on the bayou who’s looking for a fight before things slow down dramatically for “Guardian Angel,” an unhurried plea for the heavenly spirit to lend a hand in fixing a troubled romance.
Things heat up again for “It’s Alright with Me,” an uptempo number about a heaven-sent blonde with emerald eyes whose smile wants you make to stop and stare. In this one, the man has made his move, knowing he could “make you happy or make you blue,” but can accept her decision whatever it might be. It gives way to another rocker, “Stop This Messing Around,” which advises a lover who’s packed to leave to work together for a joyful life to share.
Relationship issues continue in “What Can I Say” – this time the lady’s been unfaithful – and the haunting “I’m Your Man” – in which the woman has a major drug problem and her guy insists he’s got to take a stand to help save her life – before the funk kicks in and the man describes himself as “Too Cold” because it’ll take a while before he’ll settle into a relationship.
The music sweetens but the clouds remain for “Hurricane,” which describes the onslaughts that regularly inundate the Gulf Coast, before “Everybody Needs Somebody” wonders why don’t folks hate less and love more to get along. Two more numbers – the dark “Underground” and the uplifting and spirited “Zydeco Love” – bring the disc to an interesting close.
Without a doubt, this is the most eclectic album the Heavyweights have released in their long history. There’s plenty to like here despite the overall sense of foreboding that permeates several of the songs.