The Rides [Stephen Stills, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Barry Goldberg] – Can’t Get Enough (2013)

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The joy surrounding this blues-rock collaboration is found not just in the Rides’ meaty originals — four of the 10 tracks are new — but in the way this just-founded trio happily attacks the cover tunes.

What to call Can’t Get Enough is another matter. Featuring Stephen Stills, Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Barry Goldberg, the Rides boast too much brawny grit to be compared to a certain other famous group featuring Stills — and too many flashes of singer-songwriterly depth to fit in with Shepherd’s next-gen blues albums, or even the Super Session project that first united Stills and Goldberg.

Instead, the Rides have found their own path, not entirely unlike Bob Dylan did when he made a genre-smashing appearance at Newport featuring Goldberg on keys back in 1965. There’s a fizzy sense of discovery, both with the newfound intertwining of their voices and the rediscovery of age-old favorites.

Good-rocking takes on Muddy Waters’ “Honey Bee” and the Big Maybelle-sung “That’s a Pretty Good Love” are as inviting as they are rambunctious. Stills also references his own storied past with a hard-bitten take on former bandmate Neil Young’s “Rockin’ in the Free World,” then with the closing “Word Game,” an unreleased song from his days in Buffalo Springfield.

In fact, Can’t Get Enough (due August 27, 2013 via 429 Records) is built on that kind of musical complexity. You’re just as apt for find Goldberg’s barrelhouse keys providing the fuel for a fun take on Elmore James’ “Talk to Me Baby,” as you are a nasty-grooved update of Iggy Pop’s “Search and Destroy,” tried at the suggestion of producer and ex-Talking Head Jerry Harrison. Playing it more loose than fast, the Rides don’t attempt to reach the primal danger found on the Stooges’ mythical side, instead transforming it into a scraggly Stonesy rocker — made complete by Stills’ Keith Richards-inspired riffing.

As for the originals, the trio-written “Roadhouse” opens Can’t Get Enough, setting a template for their simmering work together as the Rides trade lyrics, trade riffs, trade the mic. If the storyline itself — which details the oft-told trials of a working musician — doesn’t break new ground, their unadulterated passion in the telling is contagious. “Don’t Want Lies” recalls the best of Stills’ confessional songcraft both as a soloist and with Crosby Stills and Nash, but it’s built this time upon a searching riff from Shepherd. Stills’ aged howl fits perfectly into the slow-simmering “Can’t Get Enough of Loving You,” while “Only Tear Drops Fall” finds Stills and Shepherd trading spicy licks amidst a story about coming to terms with life.

It’s that kind of record — unscripted, utterly in the moment, and free of confining genre concerns. Plenty of albums try for this kind of raw, first-take authenticity. But the Rides’ perfectly named Can’t Get Enough goes them one better with its jubilant sense of musical ambition.

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Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has written for USA Today, American Songwriter, All About Jazz, and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the U.S. by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso
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