If you caught my review of the debut CD from the Royal Southern Brotherhood band (here), then you've taken the first step in gettin' the git-down on Gone to Texas, as co-founder Mike Zito's CD is as swamp-funky, Southern rock chunky, and just as spunky as that group of bougainvillea bad boys. The Wheel is his side-project klatsch of crazed sonic dirt farmers ploughing an aquaduct from Tallahassee to Chicago to see just what the hell all those blues catz were on to. I'm not sure who they encountered along the way—other than Sonny Landreth and Delbert McClinton, both of whom appear here—but they definitely figgered out what was what while dragging along their own dyed-in-the-blood Americana into the fray.
The very first track, the title song, is a compellingly thick and propulsive stomp that cuts through the speakers like prisoners escaping the work farm, rebels and ne'er-do-wells determined to gain freedom and this time keep it. Then there's the Mississippi Queen-ish Don't Think 'Cause You're Pretty which, coincidentally enough, underscores Zito in that rough glottal tone Leslie West trotted out so well in his classic-but-ignored Moutain solo debut (which, of course, led to the formation of the legendary band with the inimitable Felix Pappalardi, the true brains of the outfit, as we've come to see). He also has a bit of James Montgomery's near-laughing-boy tone, shown in cuts like Don't Break a Leg, which incorporates elements of Sea Level and Elvin Bishop as well.
Gone to Texas, y'all, is a very strong CD. It ain't his debut, but it sure as hell deepens the earlier oeuvre by about three levels. The guy's had his troubles (the CD's named after the state that proved to be his salvation), so Zito isn't writing and playing from a Los Angeles yuppie frame of mind. Young bastard, too, so we're looking at a monster talent just now making his true break-out (figgers it'd be on Ruf Records). He may have the wondrous Landreth sitting in on a cut, but Mikey plays a viciously mean slide himself, and there's plenty of it all over the disc, well accompanied by Jimmy Carpenter's jes' right sax work. Funny, though, how the best music, though it may indeed yank a genre forward, mostly actually treads backwards to broaden what came before—in this case: the Allman Bros. era where Southern rock really started, and, man, Duane, Gregg, and the rest of those guys woulda been sweating bullets, and grinning like madmen, had Gone to Texas been released in their own day.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2013, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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