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Chris Robinson Brotherhood – Betty’s Self Rising Southern Blends Vol. 3

May 22, 2017

Per Wikipedia “Jam bands are musical groups whose live albums and concerts relate to a unique fan culture that began in the 1960s with the Grateful Dead, and continued with The Allman Brothers Band, which had lengthy jams at concerts. The performances of these bands typically feature extended musical improvisation (“jams”) over rhythmic grooves and chord patterns, and long sets of music that can often cross genre boundaries.” I don’t like to pigeonhole bands, but The Chris Robinson Brotherhood is a jam band and a damn good one.  I have been looking forward to this release since I first heard about it.

Release Day 5/4/17

I am grooving to this new Chris Robinson Brotherhood (CRB) release via Spotify as I pregame for Laura Marling at First Avenue tonight.  I ordered the LP via Amazon so I won’t get it for another week (sorry real record stores, but I had a gift certificate to burn).  CRB are hit-and-miss as far as what they make available on streaming services.  Fortunately, this one is on Spotify.

The Betty Blends series features recordings mixed live from the soundboard by renowned Grateful Dead engineer Betty Cantor-Jackson.  The most valuable LP I have in my collection is Vol. 1. That one was a Record Store Day release.  The moment I bought it, a guy tried to buy it off me (at double the price I just paid) and when I said no he cursed me out as a flipper.

Betty’s Self Rising Southern Blends Vol. 3 is a 13-track set of performances captured during CRB’s November 2015 Southeastern run through Atlanta, Georgia; Raleigh, North Carolina and Charleston, South Carolina.

First impressions are good.  It is bluesier than their studio albums.  It is sloppier in a good way – their studio albums can be a bit too buttoned down.  It includes originals and covers.  There is more diversity to the set – the recent studio albums have been a bit too cohesive.

Several Days In 

I am really digging this album.  It could be my favorite since CRB’s debut Big Moon Ritual.

The album opens with “I Ain’t Hiding” from The Black Crowes’ final studio album, 2009’s Before the Frost…Until the Freeze.  The original cut had Some Girls Stones’ swagger.  This version is mellower and more playful.  It has a more Grateful Dead Shakedown Street feel.

“I Got Love If You Want It” is a Slim Harpo cover.  I am not a blues scholar, but I am familiar with the Slim Harpo name.  Beyond “I’m A King Bee,” I am not familiar with his work.  Listening to CRB’s cover has me now listening to The Excello Singles Anthology. CRB give it a Led Zeppelin read. There is a reason Jimmy Page chose to tour with The Black Crowes to play Led Zeppelin covers.

“Clear Blue Sky & The Good Doctor” is from CRB’s Phosphorescent Harvest album.  It has a happy easygoing groove.  One of the things I like about the CRB is that they have an old time folk rock feel, gut the same time they have a psychedelic Pink Floyd feel.  This song perfectly captures how CRB expertly walks the tightrope.

“The Music’s Hot” is another Slim Harpo cover.  The original has an almost a blues rap vibe. The CRB give it a nice funky twist.  It bluesy and a bit swampy.

“Roan County Banjo” is from CRB’s If You Lived Here, You Would Be Home By Now album.  This is a classic CRB original that shows off who they are.

“I’m A Hog For You” is a Leiber/Stoller song that was a hit for The Coasters in 1959. Many, including by CRB influencer, The Grateful Dead, have covered it.  CRB take a novelty song and turn it into nine-minute jam.  The slow it down and blues it up.

“Oak Apple Day” is a CRB original from Any Way You Love, We Know How You Feel. This song has a nice calm “siting on the porch” vibe.

“Get Out Of My Life Woman” is an Allen Toussaint song that he wrote for Lee Dorsey. The Jerry Garcia Band (JGB) often performed it.  The album that turned me on to Garcia was the 1991 live album simply called Jerry Garcia Band and this song was on that album. Like all Toussaint songs, it has the NOLA groove. This the perfect song for bands like the JGB and the CRB to just plain jam.

“Honeysuckle Interlude” as best I know, has not appeared on any other album. It is a short interlude/intro to the next song “Ride,” from Chris Robinson’s first solo album New Earth Mud. “Ride” has a jazz rock sound in its extended intro.  This is probably Robinson’s most gymnastic vocal on the album.  It is a wonderfully funky song. It is a nice long (about 15 minutes) jam.

“Tales of Thunder Teeth” is a CRB original that does not appear on any other CRB album (again as best I know). It is an instrumental with a prog-rock feel.

“Girl, I Love You” was written by Al Bell and Eddie Floyd and released on Stax under Floyd’s name.  CRB gives it a soul/country read. Robinson is doing some serious testifying here.

“She Belongs To Me” is a Bob Dylan tune. What first attracted me to Jerry Garcia was his outstanding Dylan covers.  CRB keep that tradition alive – turning Dylan tunes into jam band classics.

Personnel on the album is:

  • Chris Robinson: vocals, guitar, harp
  •  Neal Casal: guitar, vocals
  • Adam MacDougall: keyboards, vocals
  • Mark Dutton: bass, vocals
  • Tony Leone: drums

The LP

Ten days after release the LP finally arrives.  I pull out the first LP and out drops a surprise and unadvertised CD – actually two CDs.  This is not a CD version of the LP, but another sixteen live Betty Cantor-Jackson curated/engineered cuts.  It is from the June 26, 2015 San Francisco performance at The Warfield (per All About Jazz).

CD 1:Boppin’ the Blues; Roan County Banjo; Badlands Here We Come; I’m a Hog for You; Jump the Turnstiles; Star or Stone; Meanwhile in the Gods…; Honeysuckle Interlude; Tales of Thunder Teeth.

CD 2: Tulsa Yesterday; One Hundred Days of Rain; Beggar’s Moon; Shore Power; Got Love If You Want It ; Big River; Catfish John.

I will never publish this post if I review this bonus material, so I will have to pass.

Final Thoughts

The LP sounds fantastic.  It is simple black vinyl (as cool as colored vinyl is, it rarely sounds good).  The LP has well done packaging: a combination of art from CRB’s regular artist Alan Forbes and photos. The best photo is the band with Betty Cantor-Jackson.  I am committed; this is my favorite CRB album since their debut.

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From → Music Reviews

2 Comments
  1. Will be putting this on the fast track to listen to. I’m getting swamped.

  2. I left a comment on Music Enthusiast’s site saying ‘The Brotherhood’ is going to be on Bluegrass Underground this Saturday on PBS. Thought you might want to check it out. I’m a regular viewer of the show.

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