After reading my post about Little Feat RADZ Records General manager Jay Rosenberg contacted me to find out if I would be interested in writing a review of the latest album from the Radiators ‘Wild & Free’. I googled this band, and quickly agreed. Jay sent me the CD and I made a plan to critically listen to this 2 CD 28 song set.
My mornings consist of eating a healthy breakfast and going for a long walk with my lively dog Red. After our walk I spend the rest of my morning working on my blog. But this particular morning was special. I did all of my duties with great expedience so I could get down to some serious listening.
One of my other jobs is to do ground up restorations on Harley Davidson motorcycles for other people. I spend many afternoons doing this vibe. The big black Harley I’m assembling now is a challenge for sure. It is taking more effort than I expected. One excellent thing about living in Florida is that the great weather allows me to work out in the garage every month of the year. Red and I went to the garage a bit after noon to get started.
‘Wild & Free’ Lives up to its name. Silly me, I thought I might get some work done on that motorcycle. I found out that I have limited multi-tasking skills. The second the music started I knew that this was no ordinary band. In fact, I found their brand of music so compelling that I could not focus on my motorcycle assembly project and listen to the Radiators at the same time. So I did what any music loving guitar playing fool would do. I pretended to be working on the bike, while I sat mesmerized starting from the first song and title cut, ‘Wild & Free’.
As the CDs played a second time I began to be more productive. The tunes are so attractive and the words so easy to relate to that I did not realize that the album had played through once and was well into playing the second time. Without having to force it I have listened to these cds at least 15 times now. I also have them stored in all of my music machines so I can listen anytime, anyplace.
This is an original New Orleans band. Like all New Orleans residents the band members went through Hurricane Katrina and the levy disaster that happened afterward, and the total damage and suffering it caused to their town. Although it has affected them all personally it has not slowed them down much. The Radiators have been producing original songs for over 30 years. Wow. The most amazing part of this phenom is that all of the original members are still playing together making this one of just a few long tenured bands. This New Orleans quintet has been together touring and writing songs long enough to have a cult following that fills venues everytime. They are an integral part of New Orleans and the re-vitalization of the town. They have had gigged at Tips and other New Orleans clubs for well over 20 years.
This is fun music. I would call it a mixture of dixieland jazz and funk. It has been labeled “Fish Head Music”. It is my opinion that this band has captured the same addictive toe tapping vibrations as ‘Little Feat’. Paul Barrere and Fred Tackett of ‘Little Feat’ are regular sit ins with The Radiators. Make no mistake about it they are not copycats. All of the songs on this album are originals, not covers.
The song that attracted me the most is “Suck The Head, Squeeze The Tip”. Why? I can only say that the lyrics and music really hit the spot. There was immediate delight and a big smile came to my face, and my foot started tapping and I wanted to get up and dance. One listen won’t do. You might get a different understanding of what it means when you listen to it again. A couple other classics are “Doctor Doctor” and “Confidential”. You won’t be disappointed. This music might have risen from the streets of the French Quarter, or the swamps and bayous of Louisiana served up as a one of a kind gumbo music vibe.
I have listened to ‘Wild & Free’ many many times now and I can’t call one song my absolute favorite. Every song on this 2 cd set is great. I am attracted to their crazy fun lyrics, their jazzy melodies and their compound funky beats. Their 30 years together makes their sound so tight and perfectly melded. It takes a quirk of fate and some luck to get five people who are especially gifted musicians, who think and play together so well, and who can infect a listener with pure joy. In this day and age it is a good thing to be able to find music that leaves the world and its troubles behind.
This album is a drive down memory lane for the Radiators. By unlocking the vaults and going through a mountain of music (most of which was saved from the catastrophe), they have compiled the historical highlights of their existence from the beginning. It also includes two brand new tracks. Translating the Radiators sound into words is not easy for me. Every song tells a small story of the Rads way of life and their take on life’s experiences. The album is not in chronological order, meaning that even though it is a history of the band with songs as early as 1978 to the new tracks, they are not in any particular order. The neat thing about that is that until I read the album cover, I had no notion of whether I was listening to a tune done long ago, or just last year.
The talent driving this band is:
Camile Baudoin, Guitar, backing vocals
Frank Bua, Jr., Drums
Dave Malone, Guitar , lead vocals
Reggie Scanlan, Bass
Ed Volker, Keys, lead vocals
After playing together for all these years, it is obvious that a tight bond has been formed and they know each others tendencies. These are not ordinary musicians. Both guitar players play clean and funky, the percussive nature of the music fills you with rhythm, add in the solid bass and the sparkle of keys and you have a family recipe for some funky world class vibes. As a guitarist, I find the way they work together and blend all of their own feelings into the music practically a miracle. I don’t think you will find a tab book on this music. It is complicated to play and nothing is held back.
Here is a little tease from the album. Relax and enjoy. Warning: Very Addictive!
Need more info on the Radiators? Check out their website for upcoming events in your area.
Guitar Players Center is making this a 3 part series. I have had the pleasure of doing an interview with lead guitarist and one of the founding fathers Dave Malone and I will have a detailed post and podcast for you to enjoy in the near future. The Radiators will be in concert here in South Florida in Delray Beach on the 28th and 29th of November. I am taking my wife to see this band. It is well worth the 60 mile ride to see this group in action. Stay tuned for my upcoming concert review.
Are you familiar with The Radiators special concoction of thick tasty crawdaddy delight? Are you a Rad-fish-head fan? Please feel free to add your comments, lets let everyone know how you feel about this awe-inspiring group. Do the world a favor and Share This. Enjoy