I admit to being only vaguely aware, in 1978, of the southern rock band LeRoux when they began their career; although they certainly pricked my ears when I heard them backing Tab Benoit in 2007 and 2008 on his ‘Brother to The Blues’ and ‘Power of The Pontchartrain’ albums. So much so I sought out some of their early work (’83’s ‘So Fired Up’ being a favourite) and, suitably impressed, I really looked forward to the new release, One Of Those Days. Although only guitarist Tony Haselden is the only first line up survivor, the rest of the band have given plenty of service to make the use of the name more than justified…after all, (insert name of umpteen other bands name here), seem to get away with it!
As always for me, it is the music that matters rather than the elitism or snobbery that colours some quarters of the press and supposed fanbase: so I’m pleased to announce that the southern rock, funk, country, harmony vocals and that unique Louisiana swampiness is all present and correct.
Opening and title track shows why there are eight in the band as they all add depth to a classic sounding slice of classic rock with southern references. It may bring the Doobies to mind, but it is all LeRoux with the harmonies and consistent tasty guitar work; add in a great Hammond solo and brilliant bass line and there is nothing to dislike and everything to enjoy. No One’s Gonna Love Me is a version of the Dustin Ransom song…he’s a multi-talented musician and this is a relatively recent song of his from 2015 and is pleasant enough if veering a bit toward soul. Instrumentally though, it is all class.
Lucy Anna is back to Louisiana (I’m guessing the word play is intentional) with great piano and harmony vocals embodying that style of southern rock and making sure you keep tapping along with your chose body part(s)! Don’t Rescue Me is my current favourite as, from the first few guitar chords, it has a true rock feel with some neat riffing and a simply brilliant solo. After All brings a hint of gospel to the country rock and soul to meld into a subtle ballad with enough to dissect instrumentally to keep me interested and the Sam Cooke feel of the always-excellent vocals of Jeff McCarty works well, and the Hammond solo fits so well that it could/should have been a lot longer.
Nothing Left To Lose has some delicious slide guitar to add to the clever structure of the complex riff and multi-tiered backing from this accomplished band. I was expecting the slide to continue on the solo…it didn’t happen, but it is still a great solo and the vocal/bass/slide piece is a treat. The Song Goes On is more relaxed…but listen to the interplay between the guitars over the inventive percussion and then curse whoever faded it too soon!
Lifeline (Redux) is, as the ‘Redux’ appellation suggests is a revisit of a song off the aforementioned So Fired Up album…I’m still undecided which I like the best. This new version has some great keys/guitar throughout the seven minutes and I still like it but the original has more immediate power. Sauce Piquante is a great instrumental piece that evokes its title rather well…it has funk, swing and rock wrapped in great Hammond and guitars and always brings a smile.
The final track, New Orleans Ladies, is another revisit of an established track they regularly performed live…this time though the redoubtable Tab Benoit adds his fluid playing to the guitar solo and makes it different enough to be most welcome.
So this isn’t heavy rock; it isn’t ‘cookie cutter’ southern rock…it’s LeRoux doing what they have always done and supplied varied track encompassing the south, soul, funk and rock that may not be heavy but it is always irresistible.
Bluesdoodles rating: a Wonderful southern tinged rock addition to grace any collection.
1. One Of Those Days
2. No One’s Gonna Love Me (Like the Way You Do)
3. Lucy Anna
4. Don’t Rescue Me
5. After All
6. Nothing Left To Loose
7. The Song Goes On
8. Lifeline (Redux)
9. Sauce Piquante
10. New Orleans Ladies
Jeff McCarty: vocals
Jim Odom: guitar, vocals
Tony Haselden: guitar, vocals
Rod Roddy: piano, Rhodes piano, vocals
Nelson Blanchard: Hammond, vocals
Joey Decker: bass, guitar
Randy Carpenter: drums
Mark Duthu: percussion
Tab Benoit: guitar on New Orleans Ladies
Leon Medica: bass
Alexey Marti: percussion
Tim Courville: drums
Keith Landry, Travis Thibidaux, Chapel Heart, Bobby Kimball, Bill Champlin: backing vocals
Produced by Jeff Glixman
(The iTunes run-on track this time came from the 1930’s and the piano and acoustic slide coupling that Leroy Carr was so damned good at…Midnight Hour Blues was the track. This early groundbreaking stuff is why I love the blues and why we owe the early pioneers so much.)