Although I have never been a huge fan of the Doors, I have always recognised the exquisite musical compositions that flow through all of their work. A large part of the credit for that lies at the hands of one of the most fluid and natural guitarists of recent times.
Robby Krieger can make his guitar talk in almost every accent and bring a multitude of tonal variations to his work, just listen again to any Doors track and concentrate on his rhythm and lead work to hear a master of the instrument.
On this most recent, instrumental album, he demonstrates his skills wonderfully as the titular backing band. The Soul Savages, provide the high-quality backing he deserves. Bassist Kevin Brandino and drummer Franklin Vanderbilt, along with keyboard supremo, Ed Roth, help lift Krieger to new heights. ‘Savages’ is slightly misleading as the music is more a breathless blend of jazz, fusion, funk, soul and blues meaning it’s more subtle than savage.
Take the opener, ‘Shark Skin Suit’ for example, it’s jazzy, funky, rocky, rough and smooth and a delight from the keyboard intro and solo, through the marvellous slide guitar and off-kilter riff. A shift to jazzy, eastern-sounding patterns on the excellently titled ‘Samosas and Kingfishers’ with the guitar cleverly echoing the sitar is followed by ‘A Day in LA’ with a great bass intro and a funky workout that shows the skills of every band member.
Elsewhere we get the funky background to the guitar and piano perfection of ‘Ricochet Rabbit: the best amongst many guitar solos appears on ‘Never Say Never‘, you even get cowbell, castanets, bells, a fretless bass solo and a great electric piano solo too.
The sound palette conjures, to my mind at least, the superb Music From Free Creek album from 1973 which also brought variation, skill and a perfect listening backdrop for any (yes, any) activity.
So, even though it is not rock as such and not metal, this album is packed to the gills with superb musicianship and is worth repeated listens regardless of your genre preferences.
Robby Krieger and the Soul Savages is out now via The Players Club / Mascot Label group