Everybody's Talkin' is the second release by the husband and wife team of Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi, and their fine band. This double live album delivers on the full promise of this musical marriage born of a real life family affair. Featured is the same band, production team, and the same combination of blues rock, R&B, and instrumental experimentation that won the band the Grammy for Best Blues Album last year for their debut platter, Revelator. The first thing I thought of on my inaugural listening was recollecting the amazing synergy of Delaney & Bramlett as they were joined on the road by Eric Clapton in England back in the late '60s. There is just as much talent and energy here, and some of the same indulgence, as well.
This may come off as sacrilege to their fan base, but, I've spoken to several listeners who share this opinion and expect that this band could well grow into something much bigger than we've yet seen from the reigning King and Queen of the blues. One of the trade offs I seem to be seeing in this new era of artist self direction is the discipline and marketing expertise that could be delivered by a strong producer, and an experienced manager.
Trucks takes center stage next, and meditatively spins out a gorgeous three minute intro to Midnight In Harlem (Swamp Raga Intro with Little Martha) that is as suggestive of Ravi Shankar as it is to the memory of Duane Allman. The young Southerner is one of the truly ascending masters of the slide guitar - I've recently had the pleasure of spending time and speaking with slide masters Ry Cooder, and Sonny Landreth, and as I listen to Trucks I wonder what it may be that draws such soulful, thoughtful, and musical mystics to the slopes of the slide. George Harrison brought the art of melodic slide playing to the world of the electric guitar when faced with his immersion into Indian music and the arrival of chops heavy guitar-slingers like Clapton, Hendrix, Beck, and Page, and ever since, the best proponents of the art seem to bring as much to the table as beings as they do as musicians. Trucks is the youngest of the breed, and quite possibly alongside Sonny Landreth, the most highly developed of these slide masters. His meteoric rise over the last decade has been most amazing, but I dare say, and hope - his best playing may lay ahead for him.
It's rather amazing that with eleven people sharing the stage, things never get muddled, or overly busy, but this band is not just playing, they're also listening to one another, and embellishing as they accompany each other. It's clearly Trucks' show as the band's main soloist, but there is a huge amount of interplay going on all the time. The band's two drummers (Tyler Greenwell and J.J. Johnson) play like a well oiled machine, and are extremely complementary, as is bassist Oteil Burbridge and his keyboardist brother, Kofi. The horns are fantastic in their role - they bide their time, and when called upon, they flat out deliver, usually in a way that suggests a Soho jam session long after midnight.
Bound By Glory is another excellent tune off of the band's first release - Trucks brings it up to speed with a lovely bit of raga rock before Kofi Burbridge steps on the volume pedal of his Hammond B-3 organ, and leads the band into a tune that has classic stamped all over it. The organist takes the first solo that sees his bassist brother bouncing alongside enthusiastically until Trucks takes back the wheel, sending the band and the tune out to a sizzling conclusion.
A pleasant Bo Diddley beat rings in the blues standard, Rollin' and Tumblin' - it features more of the same outstanding playing, but it's something of a let down after the incredible head of steam the band has thus far built, and while this rendition is certainly a few steps ahead of what most bands could do with this tune, it is also a step behind what I expect from this crew. It's hell to hang out with greatness - it creates some very high demands and expectations!
A gospel infused version of John Sebastion's Darling Be Home Soon gives the audience and the listener a chance to catch their breath, and enjoy the band in song mode. Even still, there is a relatively mindblowing solo from Trucks, and loads of inventive and interesting playing and singing.
Of course, at the amazingly low price of $10.88 (Amazon), one could say I have no place to complain, but I still think I might. I have been saying for several years that Derek Trucks is very close to becoming a much more significant artist than he already is - I have stated many times that I think he has an album in him that will completely overshadow what he has done so far. And, I think that by keeping this set to one CD, they may have actually ended up with a more impressive document. This is a fine, fine album, but again, I think some judicious chopping may have left them with a great listening experience from beginning to end which would have left us plenty sated, but still clamoring for more.
Tedeschi Trucks Band is one of the most powerful outfits filling theaters today - they've made an excellent second album, and I'm sure the best is yet to come. Stay tuned.
Special thanks to Michael Vernelle Lewis!