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Blues - Released August 23, 2019 | Provogue Records

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After emerging from the sacred pedal steel tradition in the African-American Pentecostal church, Robert Randolph has expanded the sonic possibilities of his instrument. Under Randolph's fingers, the pedal steel roars as the star of his fiery live shows, exploding the common perception that its best use was adding atmosphere behind country music weepers. After eight albums Randolph has settled into a forceful soul-gospel-blues-groove which he continues to enrich and explore with each new record. In this collaboration, recorded by skilled Nashville producer Dave Cobb (who also played guitar and co-wrote five of the album's tunes), Randolph mixes things up with a cover of the Pops Staples' "Simple Man," and on the funky, Meters-like "Second Hand Man." "Cut Em Loose" is a powerful hard rock number led by the kind of buzzsaw tone that won the jam band audience over to his cause years ago. The musical intensity increases on "Living Off the Love You Give," with Randolph letting loose on fierce, razor-like lead lines. Brighter Days closes with "Strange Train," another driving, jumpy, R&B-drenched dance tune where Randolph shows again why he is the pedal steel guitar's leading virtuoso. © Robert Baird / Qobuz
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Rock - Released February 17, 2017 | Masterworks

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Rock - Released February 17, 2017 | Masterworks

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Robert Randolph is one of the rare artists who's been able to convince a sizable audience that the pedal steel guitar has a place outside country music. This is partly due to his over-the-top skills on the instrument, but just as importantly, Randolph and his Family Band have consistently shown their ability to launch a soul shakedown party of major proportions whenever they take the stage or set up in the studio. 2017's Got Soul, Randolph's fifth studio album, seems designed to capture the energy and power of Randolph and his band in full flight, and producer Matt Pierson has gone out of his way to give this material a big, rollicking sound that makes the most of the muscle and sweat of this music. While the tough, funky report of the rhythm section and the call of the organ provide the backbone of these songs, it's Randolph's pedal steel that gives Got Soul its unique sound, as the wailing peals of his instrument tear through the mix and lend this as much of a vocal presence as any instrumentalist can provide. While vintage soul and funk figures play a big role in these arrangements, Randolph's background in gospel is never entirely out of the picture, and there's a churchy passion at the heart of this music that adds plenty to the emotional resonance, especially on tracks like "Be the Change" and "Heaven's Calling." But even when Randolph is drawing on the gospels, the palpable joy of this music carries the day, and despite the presence of guest artists like Cory Henry, Anthony Hamilton, and Darius Rucker (the latter delivering one of the most emphatic vocals of his career on "Love Do What It Do"), it's Randolph & the Family Band's talent and fervor that make this album special. Got Soul is taut, joyous, heartfelt music that mixes Saturday night and Sunday morning, and the results will make you take notice any day of the week. ~ Mark Deming
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Rock - Released September 25, 2006 | Warner Records

Those who became aware of Robert Randolph's considerable musical gifts on either the awesome Live at the Wetlands or on the underrated Unclassified are in for a surprise. Colorblind expands the Robert Randolph & the Family Band's palette -- on tape anyway, they've been doing stuff like this on the stage for years -- stretching out from the blues ledge into gospelized, gritty funk and soul, and expanding those genres in the process. Using a group of producers from cut to cut, the Family Band takes no prisoners in this wildly crazy and utterly joyous mix of musical forms and flavors. Sure, it's a bit slicker than Live at the Wetlands, but not in any detrimental way. This is what these cats have been laying down for awhile now. It's been their vision and they've finally brought it into the studio. The opening joint is a stomping wail called "Ain't Nothing Wrong with That" that features the Family Band chanting a refrain, handclaps, and killer female backing vocals as well as Jason Crosby's B-3, as Randolph's pedal steel hovers above before coming in for the killing groove. But that's only a hint. In "Deliver Me," the sound of Sly and P-Funk come home to roost in the pile-driving rock and funk mix that once again is drenched in spirituality. The backing vocal chorus includes the Family Band, Lenesha Randolph, Tommy Sims, and Daniel Morgan in a total vocal throwdown that either George Clinton or Rick James could have arranged. Even in the love song -- "Diane" -- the groove is thick and sweaty with Randolph just burning in his fills and a horn section laying down charts Sly Stone could have written. Yeah, now this is how to celebrate romance baby! But they can slow it down, too. "Angels," (co-written with Mark Batson and Dave Matthews) is a simple soul tune where Randolph plays with just enough muddy distortion to make his axe sound like something out of the Memphis Studios of Stax. Jason Crosby's B-3 lays down the church vibe as the band sings it sweet and spiritual. Much is made of Eric Clapton's guest spot on "Jesus Is Just Alright," but let's face it, Clapton is simply outclassed, here musically and vocally. A far better match for this nugget would have been the intrepid Delaney Bramlett, who taught Clapton how to sing like that in the first place and can play guitar like a true Southern bluesman. But whatever; if it gets the record heard by the general public, that's a plus. "Stronger," with Leela James on vocals, is one of the more beautiful songs on the set. She is a gospel singer of the first order, full of deep feeling soul. Written by Randolph, Crosby and Morgan, R. Kelly will flip when he hears the genuine uplifting emotion in this tune, which has a true ability to bring folks together. He'll wish he'd written and produced it. The slippery backbeat in "Blessed" is simply infectious and "Love Is the Only Way," with Matthews, Leroi Moore and Rashawn Ross, works on the Southern soul groove despite the crowd, thanks in part to a killer horn chart and the alternating vocals, as well as Randolph's tasty fills and the backing chorus. Cuts like "Thrill of It," bring the funk and roll back with a vengeance, as much as "Thankful and Thoughtful" brings that Funkadelic stroll to the backbone and lets it slip, all greasy like. And the final track, "Homecoming," brings us all back home starting all slow and sleek, bringing its gospel to the street where the monster funk comes to church. Oh yeah. This is the song-oriented record that the Family Band needed to make, and it in no way diminishes Randolph's instrumental acumen; he's everywhere, man. Colorblind is the record some bands never reach the maturity to make, and the Family Band has pulled this together on just their second studio outing. It's not only mature, it's a smoking slab of goodness and heat. Just get it. ~ Thom Jurek
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Blues - Released July 22, 2003 | Warner Records

The second full-length from sacred steel genius Robert Randolph & the Family Band delivers, from the studio, the same promise, grit, grease, and sweat that Live at the Wetlands did. Randolph pulls out the stops in the studio, using his own band, without any of the hotshot guest stars who he's appeared with in the last two years. Unclassified features a road-tested, studio-savvy band using all of its collected gifts with producer Jim Scott to make a record that is as much about soul, funk, hard rock, folk, and jam band intensity as it is about the gospel music that first inspired the unit. On first listen, listeners might be taken aback by "So Refreshing," with its soul groove and tight gospel arrangements and a greasy P-Funk bass running alongside Randolph's razor-wire and switchblade steel. But contrast it with the in-the-pit wail of "Squeeze," with organs and syncopated rhythms playing counterpoint to the steel and bass, or the Stevie Wonder-esque hard funk of "I Need More Love," with keyboards rollicking along the groove as the bass literally pops around a chorus that delivers the call-and-response choir in full-on, Sunday church, Funkadelic effect. Unclassified is, in all of its varied approaches to gospel music and the sacred steel tradition, incontrovertible proof that they can deliver from the booth as well as they do on a stage and with more variety. This is a free-sounding record, given how so much of it feels live with its intensity and its focus on shape-shifting rhythmic and harmonic structures in the improvising, yet all within the context of "song." "Smile" features tender lyrics and gorgeous harmonies, while "So Refreshing," with its Sly Stone Fresh-era open R&B pockets of easy melodic invention and rumbling funky overtones, gives the vocalists lots of room to bring home the atmosphere of the tune; it's summery, free, and full of light. These two tracks stand in sharp contrast to the jam sensibilities that much of the rest of the album operates on, but they are wondrously multi-dimensional portals into the band's collective psyche. While it's true that Randolph's steel, which is immediately recognizable everywhere here, is supplanted by the fattest, gnarliest bass this side of Bootsy Collins, the instrumental attack of the Family Band is in its ability to change its sound on virtually every track. "Calypso," with its flights-of-fancy explorations into the realms of jazz-rock and Santana-esque Latin jam consciousness, opens up the American gospel palette infinitely, and the shattering country gospel -- via New Jersey nightclub rock & roll infusion -- of "Run for Your Life" that caps the disc is a summation of the journey; that journey is spiritual and full of humor, empathy, and expansive notions of what music is, and how it plays a role in the relief of suffering in everyday life. This is multivalent music, full of the message of joy, passion, and realization, and it is played in such an enlightened manner, so completely unburdened by the rigidities of context and category, that it exists on its own plane. How many times can you say that about a pop record in the 21st century? Unclassified is truly awesome and inspiring; it provides a guidepost for sacred steel music in the future and will hopefully enter the mainstream -- though that's doubtful -- of American popular culture. ~ Thom Jurek
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Rock - Released July 16, 2013 | Dare Records

For Robert Randolph & the Family Band, the three year break after 2010's somewhat stilted-sounding We Walk This Road was well deserved. By Randolph's own admission, their 280 date-per-year touring pace had taken its toll: playing music, let alone trying to find time to create it, had become a chore. Their Blue Note debut, Lickety Split, features an expanded FB lineup that includes vocalist Lenesha Randolph and guitarist Brett Haas; the group has gone back to its earliest recorded efforts for inspiration while furthering their new music considerably. The end result resembles their live sound more than any studio record in their catalog. Co-produced by the FB with Randolph's songwriting partners, it was primarily engineered and edited by Eddie Kramer, and mixed by Jim Scott. Opener "Amped Up" delivers the FB's trademark party-time meld of screaming hard rock, funk, gospel, blues, and R&B, all at full-tilt and in the raw. "Born Again" delivers the band's signature gospel message with celebration. The gorgeous call-and-response vocals between the Randolphs, and guest Bekka Bramlett, and the meaty, contrasting guitar interplay between Robert and Haas, are irresistible. Soul, Cajun-country, and gospel are at the heart of the dreamy yet earthy Lenesha-led, "New Orleans." Speaking of NOLA, Trombone Shorty lends his horn and energy to the gospelized, Crescent City-flavored stomp of "Take the Party." Carlos Santana makes two appearances here as well. On the driving funk of "Brand New Wayo," he delivers a fine, overdriven B.B. King nod when prompted by Randolph, while bassist Daniel Morgan lets his Bootsy freak flag fly and pushes the tune into the red. The rangy, pulsing hard rock gospel blues in the title track gets high marks for Randolph's tasty fills and the soulful vocal exchanges. The cover of the Ohio Players' "Love Rollercoaster" has its horns supplanted beautifully by the color palette from Randolph's pedal steel, and Morgan's knotty, funky bassline. The other cover here is an off-your-seat-and-on-your-feet reading of the Rascals' "Good Lovin," with Dwan Hill adding his B-3 to the mix and trading fours with Randolph, sending it all off in party-down version of a Möbius strip. Lickety Split is not only a joyous, unhindered return to form, but the group's finest studio offering to date. ~ Thom Jurek
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Rock - Released August 12, 2016 | Dare Records

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For Robert Randolph & the Family Band, the three year break after 2010's somewhat stilted-sounding We Walk This Road was well deserved. By Randolph's own admission, their 280 date-per-year touring pace had taken its toll: playing music, let alone trying to find time to create it, had become a chore. Their Blue Note debut, Lickety Split, features an expanded FB lineup that includes vocalist Lenesha Randolph and guitarist Brett Haas; the group has gone back to its earliest recorded efforts for inspiration while furthering their new music considerably. The end result resembles their live sound more than any studio record in their catalog. Co-produced by the FB with Randolph's songwriting partners, it was primarily engineered and edited by Eddie Kramer, and mixed by Jim Scott. Opener "Amped Up" delivers the FB's trademark party-time meld of screaming hard rock, funk, gospel, blues, and R&B, all at full-tilt and in the raw. "Born Again" delivers the band's signature gospel message with celebration. The gorgeous call-and-response vocals between the Randolphs, and guest Bekka Bramlett, and the meaty, contrasting guitar interplay between Robert and Haas, are irresistible. Soul, Cajun-country, and gospel are at the heart of the dreamy yet earthy Lenesha-led, "New Orleans." Speaking of NOLA, Trombone Shorty lends his horn and energy to the gospelized, Crescent City-flavored stomp of "Take the Party." Carlos Santana makes two appearances here as well. On the driving funk of "Brand New Wayo," he delivers a fine, overdriven B.B. King nod when prompted by Randolph, while bassist Daniel Morgan lets his Bootsy freak flag fly and pushes the tune into the red. The rangy, pulsing hard rock gospel blues in the title track gets high marks for Randolph's tasty fills and the soulful vocal exchanges. The cover of the Ohio Players' "Love Rollercoaster" has its horns supplanted beautifully by the color palette from Randolph's pedal steel, and Morgan's knotty, funky bassline. The other cover here is an off-your-seat-and-on-your-feet reading of the Rascals' "Good Lovin," with Dwan Hill adding his B-3 to the mix and trading fours with Randolph, sending it all off in party-down version of a Möbius strip. Lickety Split is not only a joyous, unhindered return to form, but the group's finest studio offering to date. ~ Thom Jurek
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Blues - Released August 23, 2019 | Provogue Records

Robert Randolph, after emerging from the sacred pedal steel tradition in the African-American Pentecostal church, has expanded the sonic possibilities of his instrument. Under Randolph's fingers, the pedal steel roars the star of his fiery live shows, exploding the common perception that its best use is adding atmosphere behind country music weepers. After eight albums Randolph has settled into a forceful soul-gospel-blues-groove which he continues to enrich and explore with each new record. In this collaboration, recorded by skilled Nashville producer Dave Cobb, Randolph mixes things up with a cover of the Staples pops' "Simple Man," and on the funky, Meters -like "Second Hand Man." "Cut Em Loose" is a powerful hard rock band by the kind of buzzsaw The musical intensity increases on "Live Off the Love You Give," with Randolph letting loose on fierce, razor-like lead lines.Brighter Days closed with "Strange Train," another driving, jumpy, R & B-drenched dance tune where Randolph shows up again. © Robert Baird / Qobuz
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Rock - Released June 18, 2010 | Warner Records

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Rock - Released November 11, 2016 | Masterworks

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Rock - Released June 18, 2010 | Warner Records

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Rock - Released January 13, 2017 | Masterworks

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Rock - Released November 11, 2016 | Masterworks

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Rock - Released October 23, 2009 | Warner Records

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Rock - Released December 25, 2009 | Warner Records

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Rock - Released May 4, 2010 | Warner Records

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Blues - Released July 8, 2003 | Warner Records - Dare

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Blues - Released August 25, 2008 | Warner Records - Dare

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Blues - Released January 6, 2004 | Warner Records

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Rock - Released August 15, 2006 | Warner Records

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Robert Randolph & The Family Band in the magazine