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Around Our Town...Music to My Ears

The Derek Trucks Band: Songlines

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07/01/2006 - People can you feel it? Love is everywhere. The Allman Brothers Band was and is amazing in its ability to speak several languages at once. Equal parts blues, jam music, soul, and fiery rock and roll, all smothered in white gravy, southern style. Fortunately for all of us music lovers, the band is still alive and well, despite the passing of several members, and the burn out of several more. The band that pretty much invented southern rock is still out there laying it down Dixie style. In fact, you can catch them later this summer in Denver.

So why did I start off a review of The Derek Trucks Band talking about the Allman Brothers? That's because Derek Trucks is the nephew of Allman Brothers drummer Butch Trucks, and he is carrying on the tradition established by his uncle's band. In startling fashion, I might add. Okay, I will add that. Derek plays guitar. Oh, brother does he ever play guitar. In fact, sometimes he sounds so much like Duane Allman (R.I.P.) that it's as though Derek has managed to somehow supernaturally appropriate some of that signature slide guitar fire and brimstone from Duane. It's cool and creepy all at the same time.

This would probably be a good time to mention that Derek Trucks is also one of the guitar players in the current incarnation of the Allman Brothers Band, along with the unbelievable Warren Haynes. This may be blasphemous, but I believe the ABB is as good now as it ever was.

Anyway, back to Derek and his band. Where did I leave off? Oh, yeah. He plays like Duane Allman. Well, that's true to a point. The thing is, though, that Derek takes his guitar places Duane never visited, like India and the middle east. He plays slide, but with a definite world flavor. It is a wonder to behold all the shapes this guy can bend a note into. He'll launch into a solo that will take you around the world, then dump you right back into the Mississippi delta where you started from, and make it sound ridiculously easy. And the things he can do with a dobro will raise goosebumps and bring you straight to Jesus.

As for the band, Derek has assembled a stellar group of true musicians who augment his sound perfectly. The album features incredibly soulful vocals, a retro-seventies Hammond organ, a flute, and tons of African percussion which all combine to create a sound both fresh and familiar. Like so many albums I appreciate, this one sounds like it may well have been recorded in 1973. There are moments here where the listener could easily be convinced they are listening to a remixed Allman Brothers Band album from thirty years ago.

What does it all mean? It means that I appreciate this newest DTB release a whole lot. BUT…I'd rather listen to the Allman Brothers, any day. Derek has more room to experiment within the context of his own band, but I like him more when he's restricted to the more blues-laden format followed by the Allmans. A quick listen to their last studio release, "Hittin' the Note" confirms this notion. Derek's in one speaker, and Warren Haynes is in the other. The two monster guitarists trade licks throughout the entire album. Wow. That's what it's all about. And with the inimitable Gregg Allman singing? Forget about it.

You wouldn't necessarily be wrong to go down to the record store and plunk down some cash for the newest Derek Trucks Band album, but you would be absolutely right to head for the "A" section and buy the last Allman Brothers Band offering. It's your call, of course. I'm sure you'll make the right decision.

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