Reviews:: Blackie and the Rodeo Kings Let's Frolic Again

Back story time for all of you new to Blackie and the Rodeo Kings. Colin Linden, Stephen Fearing, Tom Wilson decided to form a Canadian roots supergroup to bring the music of Willie P Bennett to the masses. Long story short, Willie P was a staple of the Canadian folk circuit in the later 60's and 70's - you can read more about him here - but essentially his style of music influenced a lot of the Canadian music that was eaten up in the 90's (the Skydiggers and BNL owe him a big chunk of change). Colin, Stephen, and Tom decided to record an album of his classic songs, and finally brought some exposure to the road hardened vet.

The trio's take on his songs was so well received that they decided to keep on rocking and now they are back with the bookend of the Woodstock session; they recorded 29 songs for two records that were released 9 months apart. The second release from the Woodstock session is less structured and you can actually feel the life flowing through Let's Frolic Again. It's like you are watching the band play on your porch.

The record - a whopping 14 songs - is best described as one of those jam sessions that turns out perfect; the songs mix well and the solos sound great. They venture into country, blues, skatting boogie, and a toss in a few spirited covers (including Willie P Bennett's Sometimes It Comes So Easy and Murray McLachlan's Down by Henry Moore), but the real gift of this record comes from the pure joy coming from the band. You can almost see the big smiles they wear, as they laugh and say things like.. "solo" and "one more" before playing a few extra notes.

Obviously, the band that comes to mind for me is well, The Band, so it's great to see Garth Hudson's name attached to the project. The record starts with a bang, as Better Off Alive grabs you with a rollicking riff, vocal interplay and some heavy ivory work. It sets the party vibe, and that tone stays until the last beer is polished off and the last note is played. Over the next 13 songs, you are transported to the 60's, and the boys hit their stride on tracks like Sometimes It Comes So Easy and the road trip ready How Long (which if our friend Joel Plaskett is reading, would be a fantastic cover for you to add to the mix). I don't want to make sweeping generalizations, but if you don't want to shake it to Don't Blame Your Blues on Me you might actually not like music

Something's On My Mind is another great number, that makes you wish you were driving out of town in the late afternoon sun with the radio the only sounds you can hear, but the trio throws in some slowed down ballads to break up the sound. The accordion laced There's No One Like You After All is a tear jerker, and the marching drum backing and tight three part harmonies on Down to the Well gives the record that change of pace it needs to help you take a breath.

I could go on and on about songs that I like (Take Cathy Dancing and the album closer, Red Red Robin), but it's probably easier to say that I really can't find anything bad to say about this record. Let's Frolic Again is an album any roots, 60's jam fan needs to own.

For our Halifax readers, Blackie and the Rodeo Kings are playing the Casino on October 5th and 6th and looks like they might be making their way across the country after that.
MP3:: How Long
MP3:: Down to the Well

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