The pedal steel guitar is an instrument not used enough in music today. Thankfully for everyone’s ears, Robert Randolph brought together four masters of this instrument to make an album together. Calvin Cooke, Chuck Campbell, Darick Campbell, and Aubrey Ghent make up the group that keeps the sacred tradition of the pedal steel alive and well. Throughout the album there is an expertise of the instrument on display, whether the band is tackling blues, funk, rock or gospel.
The album opener is a cover of The Allman Brothers song “Don’t Keep Me Wonderin’.” Right off the bat you can hear that these four musicians know how to make the pedal steel sing. Fans of The Allmans should have no problem loving this great cover. Since Duane Allman used a slide on his guitar for many of the songs he played, the pedal steel is a great guitar to use for any cover of one of his songs. There is a non-stop fury of wailing guitars as each member takes turns showcasing their talent. A cover of George Harrison’s “My Sweet Lord” follows and the band makes the tune into a gospel song instead of the rocker we know from George. The Slide Brothers make it work with help from Jimmy Carter, from The Blind Boys of Alabama, on vocals. They truly do the song justice and this new take is a wonderful party for your ears.
“Wade in the Water” is a great track on this album; the song has been around for ages and is a spiritual classic, but The Slide Brothers make it an instrumental and dig into the song with fury. The five minute track allows each member to stretch their abilities out and provides them a moment to shine before turning it over to the next person. “Praise You”, a Fatboy Slim cover, follows and with help from Shemekia Copeland and Robert Randolph and the Family Band, the song is turned into a guitar wailing gospel song and fast becomes one of the best tracks on the album. The Slide Brothers make this song sound like an original and they did it with such ease.
“Motherless Children” by Eric Clapton is tackled a little later in the album and they stay more true to the original than they have done with other covers. The track is excellent and having four people cover one of the best guitar players around makes the song easier on everyone. “The Sky is Crying” was another standout track done perfectly. Most know it as a Stevie Ray Vaughn song but The Slide Brothers stayed with the more traditional Elmore James version of the song, keeping it heavily rooted in the blues.
Robert Randolph has wanted to make this album for a long time in order to show everyone why he plays pedal steel. These were some of his guitar gods growing up and he did a great job of giving The Slide Brothers material to tear into. Get this album as soon as you can and be prepared to get rocked by one of the most unique musical instruments, the pedal steel guitar.
Key Tracks: Don’t Keep Me Wonderin, Wade in the Water, Praise You
Pick up the album from their website – The Slide Brothers