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Robert Randolph & The Family Band: Colorblind

Chris M. Slawecki By

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In a relatively short time, Robert Randolph has become generally renowned as "the Hendrix of pedal steel guitar, expanding the instrument's vocabulary and approach beyond its familiar country/pop settings. He's in what must be a rather exclusive club of musicians who have guest-starred, upon request, with the Five Blind Boys of Alabama and with Ozzy Osbourne. "I'm trying to create a new field and a new style that'll influence some kids to go, 'Wow, I can be Black and be from the inner city and I don't have to be a rapper!' Randolph allows. "I look at Sly Stone, how he came in and just ripped the music industry apart—I think music fans are ready for that again.

The stylistic mixture of Colorblind puts Randolph's music where his mouth is. "Deliver Me twitches off of rhythm guitar riffs and a staccato vocal that roar with all the punk-funk power of a Red Hot Chili Peppers hit. "Thrill of It moves toward the "black rock advocated by guitarists James Blood Ulmer and Vernon Reid in Living Colour. Put together, "Diane and "Thrill of It prove that the Family Band's rhythm section, bassist Danyel Morgan and drummer Marcus Randolph, play with the funkiest bottom this side of Christina Aguilera.

Co-written with Steve McEwan, songwriter of hits for country stars Faith Hill and Kenny Chesney, "Stronger features McEwan on acoustic guitar, Leela James on vocals, and this set's most familiar country/western use of Randolph's slide guitar.

His cover of the Doobie Brothers' running blues "Jesus is Just Alright in tandem with blues-rock guitar king Eric Clapton boils the lid completely off. Clapton's vocal in the "Jesus, He's my brother... bridge burns hoarse yet hot, and it's a tribute to Randolph's own playing that you cannot identify whose electric guitar is shooting off which sparks. If there was more music like this on Clapton's recent records, I'd have tried harder to stay awake and get all the way through more of them.


Track Listing: Ain

Personnel: Robert Randolph: pedal steel, guitar, vocals; Danyel Morgan: bass, vocals; Jason Crosby: Hammond organ, piano, keyboards, vocals; Marcus Randolph: drums, vocals; Drew Ramsey: guitar, vocals; Shannon Sanders: keyboards, vocals; Shanna Crook: vocals; Lenesha Randolph: vocals; Leroi Moore: tenor saxophone; Rashawn Ross: trumpet; Mark Batson: drum programming, keyboards; Eric Clapton: guitar; Leela James: vocals; Dave Matthews: guitar, vocals; Steve McEwan: acoustic guitar.

Title: Colorblind | Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: Warner Bros.

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