Robert Randolph and the Family Band – Colorblind (2006)

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by Mark Saleski

Inertia. Sure, it’s a physics thing, but I like to apply it to music every once in a while. I’m not talking career inertia; the rising star thing. No. It’s the music. You hear it and it has an energy that’s impossible to resist.

That perfectly describes the music of Robert Randolph and The Family Band.

There are a few other attributes common to musical inertia. The first is that you’ll begin to feel the urge to wave random body parts in the air. Second, is the desire to tell everybody with functioning ears about the music.

Again: Robert Randolph and The Family Band. Exactly.

Colorblind picks up right where Unclassified left off. Torrents of steaming funk and soul are thrown down by Randolph, his pedal steel guitar, and his killer rhythm section. There is serious power in this music and a good portion of the credit must be given to Marcus Randolph (drums) and Danyel Morgan (bass). They will get your body parts a wavin’!

It will take, at most, three minutes and thirty seconds to make a believer out of you. “Ain’t Nothing Wrong With That” tears the roof off with a soul raveup that’s equal parts Sly Stone, Funkadelic, James Brown, Fishbone, and Prince. An openhearted ode to giving in to the music, Randolph and Co. simply burn. If you’re a little slow on the uptake, “Deliver Me” will be the one. With a sick funk hook and catchy refrain, you will be dragged along by its inertia.

It makes me a little nervous when guests begin to show up on records. Has the artist run out of ideas? The collaborations on Colorblind neither upstage nor embarrass the rest of the material. “Love Is The Only Way” features Dave Matthews, Matthews Band sax cohort Leroi Moore, and Rashown Ross (trumpet, Soulive) on a kind of uptempo, Marvin Gaye-groove thing. Vocalist Leela James cranks up the soul on the beautiful “Stronger.” Eric Clapton also shows up to lend a little guitar and vocals to a smoldering version of the Doobie Brothers’ “Jesus Is Just Alright.” Lots of fun to hear Randolph trade fours with Clapton. Even more fun to hear Randolph reharmonize the vocal intro and adapt it to the pedal steel.

Oh, right … the pedal steel. Randolph is all over the place on this record. Nasty funk. Blues-based soul. Chunky rhythm parts. Blistering leads. He’s the man.

There are many more high points on Colorblind, but I’ll leave them for you to discover. This music is so good that I’m convinced it will find its way to your ears. Sometimes, you’ve just gotta have faith.

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