The unbridled energy that shoots out of this live in the studio recording featured AARP roots rockers Stephen Stills and Barry Goldberg with relative youngster Kenny Wayne Shepherd, is obvious from the opening swampy riff. Stills’ love of the blues has informed much of his work throughout his storied four decade career so it’s natural for him to be the driving force for this new, somewhat anonymously named band. He’s motivated to several of his most fiery solos in recent memory by the presence of his peer, keyboardist Goldberg and the enthusiasm of the 35 year old Shepherd.
The album is a mix of covers and originals that allows Stills to unleash his inner Neil Young (especially on a blistering version of Young’s “Rockin’ in the Free World”) and revisit some of the rawer aspects of 1968’s legendary Super Session album, a side of which featured Stills’ guitar paired with Al Kooper. Stills fans will be thrilled with not only his six-string work here—arguably his most untamed since the electric part of CSN&Y’s Four Way Street— but for finally recording “Word Game,” a song he’s included in his live sets for years.
Stills’ vocal limitations, brought on through age and hearing loss, are well known by now. But in this looser environment they are almost an asset as he spits out lyrics with joyful abandon. Shepherd, no vocal whiz himself, picks up some of the slack but this set is more about blazing solos than moody lyrics.
And blaze they do on a searing seven minute version of Muddy Waters’ classic “Honey Bee,” a rugged group penned swampy ballad reflecting life experiences “Only Teardrops Fall,” and a roaring take on the Stooges’ “Search & Destroy,” the latter a suggestion from producer Jerry Harrison. Slow, soulful blues don’t get more scorching than Stills’ cracked, craggy vocals and riveting dueling solos on the title track. Stevie Ray Vaughan’s long time Double Trouble drummer Chris Layton lays down supple support for a band who claims that this lowdown, frisky studio set is just the basis for a tour that should provide some serious guitar fireworks.