Written by Fumo Verde
Dusty Rhodes and the River Band come to you straight out of Anaheim, California. First You Live has the folk-rock sound made famous in the sixties, yet the lyrics here won't spark any anti-establishment riots in the streets. The songs are fun and light but there wasn't a song that jumped out and grabbed me, yet I thought the music was good over-all. This CD does have some nice surprises via how the band mixes folk rock with certain contemporary sounds.
Dusty Rhodes and the River Band has massive potential and a lot of heart. They just need to work out the kinks. "Keys to the Truck" mixes gospel with folk rock. The backing vocals bust out like a Sunday choir as the clapping of hands, the tapping of a tambourine, and the strumming of the guitar all help in keeping the rhythm. All is going along fine, then the lead vocalist stops singing and starts screaming. If he was trying for a dirty, gritty sound he didn't nail it; the scratchiness of the vocals took me out of the moment. It’s the small subtle things that seem to hold this budding band back
"Street Fighter" has to be the song I liked the most. I loved the way it opens up, with charging guitar licks, a steady base line, and a driving drumbeat. Then, add one hell of a violin player and, babies, you think you're going to the rodeo. Another change: the violin goes into a sad solo before a crescendo of all the instruments as they lay down some heavy sounds as the sad tale of the "Street Fighter" plays out.
Other songs like "Leaving Tennessee" and "Goodnight, Moonshine" give Dusty and the Band their southern twang. The accordion on “Leaving Tennessee" gives off a Cajun flavor that adds to what is their most political song. I can’t understand some of words and I think I would dig this tune more if I knew what Dusty was saying. “Goodnight, Moonshine” is a delicate song that gently drifts you off into the clouds of a Beatles-like acid trip that blends a sitar and violin rewriting the idea of folk rock.
The vocals need to be ironed out, but for fun music that will get you moving, First You Live has energy. Dusty Rhodes and the River Band have signed on to a new label and maybe that will also give them the boost they need. One can hear the passion these musicians have for the music they play. It is an interesting blend of sounds that you will hear on "First You Live" and no song feels the same. Check them out on their Myspace page and listen carefully for soon, you maybe hearing a lot more from them.