Today’s Cool Album of the Day (#724) is Royal Southern Brotherhood, Royal Southern Brotherhood
The band of musicians that is generally considered to be the first “super group” is Blind Faith. Blind Faith included Eric Clapton, who had just left Cream because he was tired of mediating the cat fights between Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker. Steve Winwood, also a member of a band that was in disarray, with all of the members of Traffic arguing over song rights and musical direction, and the aforementioned Ginger Baker.
The self-titled album that resulted from this brief crash-and-burn union was, depending on the music critic of the day you were reading, brilliant or bloated. The record was considered bloated due to the inclusion of a couple of throw-away songs including Buddy Holly’s “Well All Right” and the Ginger Baker penned “Do What You Like”, that were considered one of those “can I get those 15 minutes of my life back” Musical moments. The record was also considered brilliant due to the inclusion of “Can’t Find My Way”, “Presence of the Lord” and what is considered to be one of Eric Clapton’s first masterpieces, “Sea of Joy.” This album went to number one on the charts and set the stage as well as the blue print for the rest of the super groups that would follow in their footsteps.
Recent “super group” pairings have included Super Heavy, a real disappointment despite the presence of Mick Jagger, Dave Stewart, and Joss Stone, along with Chicken foot that features the two members of Van Halen not named Van Halen (Sammy Hagar and Michael Anthony), Joe Satriani, and a Chili Pepper (Chad Smith) that has turned out to be a formidable musical unit just releasing Chickenfoot III. My personal favorite band in this new era of super groups is Black Country Communion. This band features two members of British Rock Royalty, Glen Hughes, and Jason Bonham, as well as guitar slinger extraordinaire Joe Bonamassa, and has the hardest edge of the most recent vintage of super bands.
And now, Royal Southern Brotherhood enters the pantheon of super groups with their supremely crafted debut album Royal Southern Brotherhood that is an exciting mix of down home Cajun-creole funky blues and good old Southern rock jam-band style. While some might not consider this a super group in the truest sense of the world since none of musicians involved in the project are over saturated household names, with their pedigree, familial roots, along with the respect all of them hold in the musical community, any potential debate is easily settled by a couple of good listens of this excellent record.
Royal Southern Brotherhood is Devon Allman (son of Greg Allman), Cyril Neville of the Meters, blues rock journeyman Mike Zito, and ex Derek Tucks drummer Yonrico Scott. It is this precise blend of Cajun-swamp blues, Southern-rock blues, and good old bar-boogie soulful blues that makes this record so ear pleasing.
The opener “New Horizon” is our first introduction to the “from the gut” vocal phrasings of Cyril Neville. For many rock and blues fans that have not crossed over to the New Orleans funk blues of The Meters, this will be their virginal turn, and current fans of one of the best and oldest bands going today will notice how well the youngest Neville brother can chameleon himself into any genre.
“Fired Up” is a Latin style Santana-esque number that could have appeared on any of Carlos’ records, and “Moonlight over the Mississippi” really stretches the vocal range, an amazing feat for a soon to be 65 year old. When I was talking about his review recently I was asked if Cyril Neville still had “the chops” vocally. My response was “of course he does, just listen to “Moonlight Over the Mississippi.”
“Ways About You”, a ballad that features Mike Zito, slows down the tempo quite nicely and wraps a silky smooth vocal around some soulful slow blues guitar is a showcase tune on the album. The fun-rollicking “Sweet Jelly Donut” is a Cyril Neville penned song that perfectly mixes the blues, Cajun, and southern rock elements and name checks Trombone Shorty and Tippitinas with some fine instrumental interludes and is my favorite song on the record. The only cover song on the album “Fire on the Mountain” is interpreted with somewhat of Reggae flair to excellent results.
At the end of the day, this is a surprisingly good effort for a debut coming together of musicians that are from such diverse genres of the musical community. Some of the songs in the middle of the album seem to be a bit derivative with “Gotta Keep Rocking” sounding about like what you would expect it to, and “Hurts My Heart” could have been a John Cougar Mellencamp song.
If you are a fan of the musicians involved, buy this album. If you are an overall music fan, also buy this album and anxiously look forward to the sequel, where after a year or so of touring together and some time to spend on the songwriting aspect of the new album, this band will produce an effort that is worthy of 5 stars instead of the 3.5 stars that this one deserves.
Maybe they will even invite Trombone Shorty to join the band. Now that would be sweet!
- “New Horizon” (Cyril Neville, Mike Zito) 4:50
- “Fired Up!” (Charlie Wooten, Cyril Neville) 5:45
- “Left My Heart In Memphis” (Devon Allman) 3:30
- “Moonlight Over The Mississippi” (Cyril Neville, Mike Zito) 3:46
- “Fire On The Mountain” (Mickey Hart, Robert Hunter) 4:57
- “Ways About You” (Cyril Neville, Mike Zito) 4:41
- “Gotta Keep Rockin’” (Devon Allman, Cyril Neville) 4:39
- “Nowhere To Hide” (Devon Allman) 2:45
- “Hurts My Heart” (Mike Zito) 4:15
- “Sweet Jelly Donut” (Cyril Neville) 5:44
- “All Around The World” (Mike Zito) 3:13
- “Brotherhood” (Devon Allman, Cyril Neville, Mike Zito, Charlie Wooten, Yonrico Scott) 3:52
- Cyril Neville – vocals, percussion
- Devon Allman – vocals, guitar
- Mike Zito – vocals, guitar
- Charlie Wooten – bass guitar
- Yonrico Scott – drums
- Official Royal Southern Brotherhood Website
- RSB Tour Dates
- RSB Facebook page
- Devon Allman facebook page
- Cyril Neville facebook page
- Mike Zito facebook page
- Yonrico Scott facebook page
- See our piece on The Neville Brothers, Yellow Moon
- See our piece on The Meters, Look-a Py Py
- Check out Walt Falconer’s Website, The Falcon’s Nest