Susan Tedeschi says sprawling Tedeschi Trucks Band owes much to Joe Cocker's 'Mad Dogs and Englishmen'

There is, of course, an obvious comparison for the newly formed Tedeschi Trucks Band — yeah, we made it too — in the 1970s-era husband-and-wife projects led by Delaney and Bonnie Bramlett. Susan Tedeschi, however, says their group’s main inspiration goes further back.

All the way back to the traveling caravan of grease-popping soul and eye-popping excess that was Joe Cocker’s legendary 1970 jaunt with Leon Russell, Rita Coolidge, members of Derek and the Dominoes, Jim Keltner, Bobby Keys and others — mythical, then as now, for its army of great players.

“We’re more like the ‘Mad Dogs and Englishmen,’ but they had more like 30 people traveling with them,” Tedeschi tells Jim Caligiuri of The Austin (Texas) Chronicle. “We have the two drummers and the horns and the musical genius on keyboards. There’s a lot of similarities … They were all very incestuous with players and Leon Russell.”

In keeping, this meeting of the minds between Tedeschi and spouse Derek Trucks (of the Allman Brothers Band) is a sprawling 11-member soul orchestra that primarily features members from their respective solo groups. Yet, and Tedeschi is quick to point this out, the Tedeschi Trucks Band doesn’t simply rehash what came before.

“We wrote a ton of songs for this group and we do those while including some that haven’t been recorded yet,” she says. “Some will be on the live record that’s coming later this year. We’ve been doing covers, like Stevie Wonder, Bobby Bland, and Sly & the Family Stone. We will move some of our old songs into it, but we wanted people to realize that this is a new established band. It’s not like a side project. We want people to come in and really love this group. We also wanted the people in the band to feel like they’re here from the beginning. It’s not old repertoire stuff that we’re pulling out.”

Here’s a look back at previous thoughts on the Tedeschi Trucks Band, as well as solo efforts from its husband-and-wife frontfolks. Click through the titles for complete reviews …

TEDESCHI TRUCKS BAND – REVELATOR (2011): Ever since Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi married in 2001, the two have frequently contributed to each other projects and performed together. But through (and likely because of) the rigors of the Allman Brothers, the Derek Trucks Band, Tedeschi’s own band, and the rigors of raising two kids, they never fully consummated their musical marriage. That is, until now. Tedeschi, a pretty good guitar player and a phenomenal singer and Trucks, a great guitar player and an all-world slide specialist, finally join forces full time to form a band that from the mere mention of its existence already becomes one of the premier roots rock bands in the land. Culling together members of the Derek Trucks Band, the Allman Brothers Band and elsewhere, the eleven member Tedeschi Trucks Band is a grand collection of backup singers, horn players, a rhythm section, and, at the core, Trucks and Tedeschi.

ONE TRACK MIND: TEDESCHI TRUCKS BAND, “MIDNIGHT IN HARLEM” (2011): Sounding something like a female Otis Redding, Tedeschi takes charge from the start on “Harlem,” a soulful Dixie beer-soaked left turn on an album best described as a memorable combination of the Meters, the Band and some ass-kicking bar band from a chicken-wire roadhouse. Here, we instead find a fully realized passion being celebrated: “He was born to love me,” Tedeschi sings, “and I was raised to be his fool.” As Derek Trucks’ carefully wrought lines unfold — as tender as a lover’s next-morning note — “Midnight in Harlem” begins to illustrate where the Tedeschi Trucks Band can go, as true songwriters — songwriters with face-blistering talents at their instruments, but songwriters just the same. That is to say, they can go just about anywhere they please. They are funkier elsewhere on Revelator, harder, more direct. But I’m not sure they are ever better.

THE DEREK TRUCKS BAND – ALREADY FREE (2009): The main impetus for recording this one is a straightforward one: Trucks recently completed building his own home studio with his own hands and the help of some friends, and quickly afterwards began noodling around in it. From that Jacksonville, Florida incubator came forth plenty of new material for a new album, as well as ideas for some well-chosen covers. Throughout, Trucks — who’s the owner of a wicked slide approach that’s surpassed only by perhaps only Ry Cooder — makes his axe sing with all the soul and urgency of Aretha Franklin.

SUSAN TEDESCHI – BACK TO THE RIVER (2008): With her strong blues foundation and pliable, slightly raspy croon, Susan Tedeschi is always going to be compared to Bonnie Raitt. However, she’s yet to achieve that crossover blockbuster success of a Nick Of Time. That isn’t for a lack of quality material, though, as with Back To The River, Tedeschi continues to stay true to providing an optimal blend of blues, r&b, gospel and rock.

In ever so discreet steps, though, she’s showing continued growth in the songwriting department. They’re nicely varied but all have a lot of that old school soul in them and showcase Tedeschi’s many facets of her voice.

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  • Butch Trucks

    You need to double check your history before you post. Leon, Rita and the rest of Delany and Bonnie’s band played with Delany and Bonnie 1969-1970. So when you go to Delaney and Bonnie that’s as far back as you can go. They left them and joined Joe Cocker in 1970. One of the Allman brother’s first shows was with that version of Delany and Bonnie at The Tea Party in Boston, 1969. A year leter Joe Cocker grabbed em, then Eric grabbed the rhythm section for the Dominos in 1971-72.

    • http://www.somethingelsereviews.com Nick DeRiso

      Thanks for the note. I added a phrase that made the 1970 recording date of Joe Cocker’s ‘Mad Dogs and Englishmen’ project more specific.