Keb’ Mo’s first two records are right up there on my list of favourite records of all time. His deep blues, acoustic guitar brilliance, and sweet, smooth voice all add up to greatness, indeed.
Here we find him (mostly) in Robert Cray-style soul mode, getting his groove on while he rips through a selection of almost all cover tunes, all themed towards protesting the senselessness that inevitably accompanies a state of war. Presumably he’s talking about the U.S., but of course these thoughts are universal.
So sit back and enjoy Keb’s versions of John Lennon’s Imagine, Bob Dylan’s The Times They Are A-Changin’, the Rascals’ People Got To Be Free, Marvin Gaye’s What’s Happening Brother, and Nick Lowe’s (What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love And Understanding, a song you probably thought was written by Elvis Costello. There’s others here too, and even one original tune, and they’re all pleasant enough. The musicianship is certainly excellent. I just couldn’t help but think that this has got to be the most toothless, relaxed protest record I’ve ever heard.
Is it just me? Maybe I can only equate protest with anger. Perhaps Keb’ Mo’ is on to something here, taking the sloganeering and vehemence of the movement and popularizing it into easy listening grooves. Could it be that the way to get the greedy suburbanites involved in something other than their own myopic lives is to serve up a platter of tasty, inoffensive tunes? I guess we’ll see.
01 For What It’s Worth
02 Wake Up Everybody
03 People Got To Be Free
05 What’s Happening Brother
06 The Times They Are A-Changin’
07 Get Together
08 Someday We’ll All Be Free
09 (What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love And Understanding
On most of his records over the years, Keb’ Mo’ has vacillated between great blues tunes and truly smarmy feel-good songs. And don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with the latter, even though I always prefer the former. No, even if I find his do-good songs a little bit much sometimes, I still appreciate them for what they are. Somebody has to make them, and this artist surely does them well.
This record is no exception. The usual mix is here, weighted a tad heavy towards the latter perhaps, but all glued together by his songwriting prowess and brilliant guitar playing. The fact that I could sit and listen to him play slide guitar all afternoon is beside the point. The songs on this record are very good and really, anybody who writes an homage song called Riley B. King is definitely alright by me.
I just can’t help but wish he’d make a record of all blues. I mean, listen to the guitars on this record. It’s all there, and the man has soul. Maybe he just needs to get rid of the band and do a solo record. Just him and a guitar. I’d buy that in a heartbeat.
02 Let Your Light Shine
03 One Friend
04 Shave Yo’ Legs
05 Prosperity Blues
07 Keep It Simple
08 Riley B. King
09 House In California
10 Walk Back In
11 I’m Amazing
12 Proving You’re Wrong