The Rides driving down a Pierced Arrow
The cover hits the road with a Pierced Arrow mascot. The music hits the tarmac and flows full of blues and RnB’s deep rhythms. The Rides are a quintet, at the heart a trio Stephen Stills joined by Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Barry Goldberg. A fusion of blues passions as Kenny’s searing guitar is pulled deep into the chords of Barry’s magic tour of the keyboard with Stephen’s vocals pulling the road trip into one of stories and excitement. Add to this the rhythm section, bassist Kevin McCormick (a co-producer on Pierced Arrow) and Shepherd’s long-time drummer Chris Layton and we have The Rides. Throughout the album the passion for the song, music and blues plays centre stage on a journey that takes the interesting road as they take us on The Rides of our lives.
With a mutual love of classic cars Kenny and Stephen find a common language on many levels, hence, the title of their new album is a riff on the famed Pierce-Arrow Motor Car Company, a maker of luxury cars in the first four decades of the 20th Century. Stills knows his history and sees a unique parallel: “A lot of band musicians drove Pierce-Arrows back in the late 20s and 30s, either out to Long Island or to and from the trains. They were really roomy and you could fit in several guys and their instruments, and tie stuff to the running board. The hood ornament (as depicted on the album cover) is cool looking. I find the lines of that model particularly appealing, clean and precise like a good five-piece band.”
Pierced Arrow picks up exactly where the debut album Can’t Get Enough left us with ten tracks of Blues stamped with the authority of Stephen Stills. The album mixes originals with covers that are a driving run through the blues. The re-working of Gladys Knight & The Pips; I’ve Got To Use My Imagination, Barry co-wrote with Garry Goffin. The inspiration for the searing guitar and deep chords from the keys reflects Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland’s slower take and like the other cover that closes the album My Babe, a Willie Dixon classic was suggested by Kenny Wayne Shepherd. Ending on a classic reflects the classic blues that permeates throughout Pierced Arrow album just like the classic cars loved by Stills and Shepherd.
Opening with Kick Out Of It the album has a blues-rocking intro that gets your musical antennae whizzing with delight as you tune-in to The Rides sound. The sound is delicious with Kenny’s guitar spilling out of the weathered vocals of Stephen and Barry’s keys. Do not relax in a blues rock mode as we are in for a Riva Diva, boogie dance rhythm jam that gets the blues adrenalin flowing. Fancy chilling and kicking back then By My Side cools down the blues heat with Kenny’s vocals on By My Side a sky-blue ballad, perfect accompaniment to the picnic in the boot of The Pierced Arrow as we take a respite from the road trip The Rides are taking us on. The combinations of guitar and vocals are a lyrical joy. Just as we are chilling out the beat picks up and the texture changes vocally with Mr Policemen and the guitar laments the storyline as Stills explains speed to Mr Policeman, as on other tracks Goldberg’s keys adds that layer of interest and punctuates the rhythm section’s driving beat. Over half-way through the album what other surprises on The Rides journey they are taking us on? Well let’s have harp driven roadhouse blues, yes Game On with this energy fuelled number. Let’s have some fun as the tempo rises with I Need Your Lovin’ and the great back and forth between Kenny and the backing vocals, rockabilly with a piano solo from Goldberg that lifts the track from standard to sublime.
The Rides deliver again. A combination of Dancing Keys, Stinging Strings with raw passionate Vocals, a spectrum of blue as Shephard, Goldberg and Stills harmonize and deliver music you want to hear. My one wish is that they come over to the UK real soon so we can hear the music live.
Bluesdoodles gives this CD TEN doodle paws out of TEN ….
1. Kick Out Of It
2. Riva Diva
3. Virtual World
4. By My Side
5. Mr Policeman
6. I’ve Got To Use My Imagination
7. Game On
8. I Need Your Lovin’
9. There Was A Place
10. My Babe