Playing in the ‘rock room’ tonight is a release from last month that caused a buzz, but surprisingly under the radar. If it is to be labeled, ‘Supergroup’ would be an apt title for the ‘Rides’ debut album ‘Can’t Get Enough’. The ‘Rides’ being Stephen Stills, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, and Barry Goldberg with support in the rhythm section from rock and roll stalwarts Chris Layton on drums and Kevin McCormick on bass. This collection is a ten track blues rock attack. Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Stills both collaborate and duel, paying close attention to the detail in their playing. All of the original songs on the album are collaborations between all of the principals involved. Highlights include Stephen Stills return to form vocally with some of the most emotive singing of his recent career, possibly since the 1991 CSN acoustic tour. Goldberg and Kenny Wayne have both encouraged Stephen musically, and its obvious on the recording through the exciting and invested playing. This band cooks, and this new album is worthy of your attention.
The album opens with the heavy Delta swamp stomp of ‘Roadhouse’ hitting hard and fast. Stills mojo is tangible as he growls with an attitude, soulful but slightly menacing. The thumping groove is dressed in Goldberg’s bluesy dressings. The first solo by KWS is highly charged and fly’s off of the handle immediately with a few elastic bends. Stills takes the second and states some sweet twists on the theme in his recognizable tone, using needle sharp statements. A smoking introductory view of the collaboration, with the first track a showcasing all of the bands strengths.
The next song sounds chrome covered and is driven by Kenny Wayne Shepherd at unsafe speeds. The cover version of ‘That’s A Pretty Good Love’ once performed by Big Maybelle in 1958, is a tribal version that rolls off of the back of Layton’s jangling rhythm. Smooth and swinging, Kenny Wayne Shepherd’s guitar roller coasters rotund notes that scurry across the shifting groove. Under it all Goldberg’s left hand pounds away relentlessly, while his right glides across the black and whites.
The third track is another band original that slows the tempo a bit and is called ‘Don’t Want Lies’. Counted off by Stills the song drifts between emotional poles and has all the hallmarks of a Stills melody. The song also contains some falsetto Stills vocalizing on the chorus for a nice touch. A strong track with a sneaky solo courtesy of Kenny Wayne, the second solo a phased response by Stills. An additional moment of note is a solitary Stills vocal that hits the right spot.
A surprising and heat seeking version The Stooges ‘Seek and Destroy’ comes next and brings the temperature to nuclear levels with impassioned vocals and incendiary soloing. The band digs their heels into this one hard. Thus far the album is a diverse and well placed selection of covers and originals played joyously.
My personal favorite track on the collection comes next and starts off a pair of ace choices. First, the foreboding title track, ‘Can’t Get Enough’ is a dynamically constructed mid tempo blues that bears the fruit of this bands line up. At two minutes in Stills lets out a startling and powerful scream that ushers in the chorus, absolutely great. Kenny Wayne takes off inspired with a rocket fueled solo attack that gains intensity, then suddenly descends to a clean tone butterfly flutter. Possibly the solo of the record, then back to a detonating restatement of the theme. Buzzing in his cloak of distortion Stills takes the second solo with a measured and sinful series of statements, following them with another shredding vocal scream. Heavy blues.
What better way to follow up a smouldering original blues then with one penned by a master? The band steps into a smokey saloon version of Muddy Waters ‘Honey Bee’. Goldberg opens the song with a rolling acoustic piano opening, and later with a wind through the trees Hammond organ solo excursion. ‘Honey Bee’ extends past seven minutes and gives the band ample opportunities for flybys. KWS peaks with an orgasmic announcement containing tightly coiled virtuous runs. Stills later answers with a metallic clean tone that shimmers brightly, illuminating Goldberg’s glissando replies. Kenny Wayne takes another feisty run at it before the song concludes the two track blues clinic.
Another variety of cover song follows with with a daring version of Neil Young’s ‘Keep On Rockin In the Free World’, an accurate statement in the context of this record. This version does warrant inclusion on this record, regardless of the tunes somewhat overplayed nature. The Rides match the enthusiasm and aggressiveness of previous versions comprised of an all together different pedigree. Stills again impresses with dominant vocals, and channels his brother in arms Neil, playing twisted vibrato filled hulks of smoking metal that become guitar solos.
The last cover was Muddy, this next is Elmore James’s ‘Talk to Me’. Kenny, Goldberg, and Stills in that order buff this one til it shines, glistening with remembrances of their roots, and priceless quotes from their respective and impressive careers. Call and response vocals mixed with ass shaking grooves inject the song with a juke joint attitude. A highlight performance.
Following a series of three well played covers, ‘Only Teardrops Fall’ walks in with heavy steps and dirty boots. A well written introspective song laced with silvery guitars. A song about life trials and a persons eventual reappearance on the other side after facing these battles. A prime moment is when Stills and Shepherd meet for a musical embrace, with two guitars quoting the melody line together. An enjoyable original worthy of repeated listens, and a soothing prelude to the finale.
The final track on the LP reaches back to Stephen Stills 1971 LP, Stephen Stills II where it was performed in an acoustic guise. A favorite live performance piece for Stills, the still relevant ‘Word Game’ is given a harsh electric workout over forty years later. Retaining its original melody, a deadly serious Stills rants over honky tonk piano and profane guitars. A potent conclusion to a weighty and professional collection of songs.
It’s refreshing to know that in this day and age of sterilized music, rock fans can still find records that are ‘all killer, no filler’ in the blues/rock genre. While holding only ten songs, ‘Can’t Get Enough’ is a conducive record that contains a concentrated energy. While ‘supergroup’ collaborations are often overblown and sometime disappointing, in this case the result exceeded its principals. The Rides perform no frills, dirt road, fast car rock and roll. The enjoyment felt by the musicians is tangible on the recording which in turn increases listener enjoyment. Jangling piano, in the pocket drums, screaming guitars are the ingredients that make up this tasty rock and roll stew. Dig in.