The opening studio track to Half Live, “Muscle Shoals,” comes a bustin’ out of the gate with a bluesy rock feel and the popular flavors generated by Levon Helm and the Band. Those elements are sprinkled throughout this piece giving you that classic 70s rock sound while adding something fresh and new courtesy of a formidable The Sidney Green St. Band. Those vibrations continue with “Last Beer and Testament”, a tinge of Lynyrd Skynyrd philosophy combined with James Gang guitar licks as dual axe-men Lance Doss and Justin Jordan combine in a way that is fun for them and the audience. The sentiment has all the makings of what could possibly be a new classic rock anthem.
“One Alone”, tells you the trials and tribulations of solitary moments and that ‘sometime space’ one often likes and needs to sort everything out. The Sidney Green Street band cleverly nick from here and there, these rock and roll veterans giving a slight tribute to the Faces “Stay with Me” in this essay while maintaining their own unique style. The band doesn’t copy as much as it teases, by drawing from famous sounds you know and love from a variety of different perspectives. “Next Time” gets right down to business, a Ziggy Stardust-esque opening guitar riff that hits repeat then changing direction with “Don’t Make That Girl Cry,” adding some classic R & B soul to the repertoire. The first act on the album Half Live concludes with “Stayin’ All Night” which has melodies with staying power, and a theme indicating that the protagonist is on the Doors “Roadhouse Blues” and ain’t stayin’ anywhere all night.
PART 2 – Live
“I Belong”, the first of the live tracks on the album, takes you on a journey to a place where the fellow thinks he belongs. I hear the influential guitar sounds of Rolling Stones Keith Richards seeping through, half the fun of this is hearing which palette the boys will draw from next as drummer Steve Holley keeps things focused and on target. “Miss Understood” and “Bad Bad Way” display the power of the rhythm section, Paul Page, and Holley chugging along. “Man on a Mission” “I Ain’t Sleeping With the Lights On” giving the listener a good taste of what the club-goers see as this unit plays along the east coast with a buzz that is building rapidly. “Rock Star” floors me. What a way to close out an album! I love what this song says about the maybe/maybe not stars-in-their-eyes hopefuls – perhaps those who show up on TV shows like The Voice. That’s my spin on it, anyway. It’s a fun closer to this album which pays homage to Bob Seger’s “Old Time Rock and Roll” and, perhaps, Rod Stewart’s “Hot Legs” as well. You can actually sing “Just take those old records off the shelf
I’ll sit and listen to ’em by myself …” over the vocals…just don’t tell Seger!
Back in 1971 the group Mountain released Flowers of Evil. That vinyl disc featured new studio recordings on one side and twenty-five minutes of live music crammed onto the second side – pushing the limits of what a lp could hold back in the day. Interesting that Mountain would do this two years after Cream’s 1969 Goodbye disc, which was half live and half studio out of necessity as the band had split rather quickly. Interesting also that Felix Pappalardi produced both. With all the acknowledgment inside their songs to favorite music of the rock and roll era, I wouldn’t be surprised if The Sidney Green St. Band is giving a subtle nod to the genius of Pappalardi as well. The album is so well produced – in the studio and live – that it is a shining example of SGSB’s potential, and the enormous power of the quartet individually and separately.
Special thanks to guest contributor Ed Wrobleski for this review.