When sacred steel music first appeared on the secular circuit, it took many listeners by surprise. How was it possible so many people had never heard the amazing guitar players who make up the tight-knit community of musicians coming out of the small House of God religious denomination? We don’t have enough space to get into that.
But once the musicians, led by the Lee Boys and Robert Randolph, began playing nightclubs and festivals, they invaded and took over the jam band community. Seeing and hearing this music live is the only way to appreciate the deep connections between spirituality and music that are the hallmark of the sacred tradition.
That’s why this latest addition to the catalog of the Lee Boys, the group’s first release since Testify in 2012, is so important for understanding the genre. Recorded live at three concerts in 2018, it includes stellar performances, bringing the listener right in front of this incredible band.
Led by guitarist Alvin Lee with his brothers Keith and Derrick on lead vocals, the band includes pedal steel guitarist Chris Johnson, and Lee nephews Alvin “Little Al” Cordy Jr. on six-string bass and Earl “Big Easy” Walker on drums. Together, the Lee Boys positively rip.
The album features mostly gospel standards, all arranged by the brothers in their inimitable style, along with a few originals. There are a few spoken word asides, my favorite being when one of the brothers introduces the standard, “Don’t Let the Devil Ride,” by saying, “We gonna give y’all a little bit of the blues.” This is blues from another mother, and deserves to be played loudly.