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April 2014

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The Holmes Brothers
Alligator Records

The Holmes Brothers

Very few artists bring more joy to my ears than The Holmes Brothers. Wendell, Sherman and by association, Popsy have been responsible for some amazing music over the course of their careers, and their new record on Alligator, Brotherhood, is another gem in a fine recording career. The Holmes Brothers are indeed a “brotherhood” and this disc does an amazing job of continuing the excellence their discography is known for. Time to throw the disc in the CD player and hear what it has to offer.

We start out with the upbeat “Stayed at the Party,” and here we find that Wendell is having just a bit too much fun. “All the things….that I did…I knew they were wrong…if it was ripe…I would smoke it…if it was wet…I would drink it…til it was gone…yes, I stayed at the party…a little too long.” Popsy’s drumming is as strong as ever and this tune sets the tone for what’s yet to come.

The harmonies are as tight as ever as the Holmes Brothers move on to cover “I Gave Up All I Had,” a tune by Ted Hawkins. “I gave up all I had….for you…oh, Lord.” Love is the theme here and sacrifice for the one you love is the theme of the day. Definitely a beautiful tune and one of my early favorites on this disc. “Passing Through” is a tune written by Sherman, and he’s adamant about the need to move on. “But make no mistake about it girl…I’m just passing through.” Here today, gone tomorrow is a musician’s way of life, and Sherman’s woman is going to have to accept the truth for what it is.

A cover of Ike Turner’s “You’ve Got to Lose” is next and Popsy’s falsetto is a dead giveaway. “You got to lose…you can’t win all the time…well, there’s trouble up the road…further on down the line.” Relationships between men and women are always complicated and nobody wins them all. Sherman’s bass provides a heavy back end to “Lickety Split” and Wendell takes the microphone to tell us he’s leaving. “Maybe…sooner or later….I’m going to find one who cares…I’m going to leave you…lickety split.” Wendell is still looking for a good woman and hasn’t been able to find her yet.

“Soldier of Love” is another well-chosen cover and I’m grooving to the heavy R & B feel of this tune. “When you walk…through this wicked world…you need someone to guide you…let the soldier of love…in your heart!” Every now and then we all need a little help in figuring out our heart’s desires and the “soldier of love” is the guide that can help us through.

One of the many highlights on this disc is the duet, “Loving You From Afar,” that Wendell sings with his daughter Felecia. Felecia has an amazing voice in her own right and the tune written by her father is hauntingly beautiful. Wendell’s fretwork is intricate and emotive as we hear Felecia sing, “Loving you from a distance…oh, say can’t you see…it would be better for you…and better for me…I’m loving you from a distance…though, the door’s still ajar…so, from now on…I’ll be loving you from afar." Well done, Wendell and Felecia!! Her father’s back at the mic for another tune he wrote, “My Word is My Bond.” Wendell’s word is good and he’s making sure everyone knows it. “You come home…find me gone…don’t worry baby…I’m not doing you wrong…not to worry…I won’t be long…cause, my word is my bond.” There’s no doubt that Wendell’s word is good and he’ll be back before you know it.

“Drivin’ In the Drivin’ Rain” is a cover of a tune that Curtis Salgado had a hand in writing and I would have to think that Sherman is at the microphone for this one. “Drivin’ in the drivin’ rain…black as night…I can’t see a thing…run this road…til I’m in your arms again.” There’s no doubt that Sherman is doing everything he can do to get home to the one he loves, including, “drivin’ in the drivin’ rain.”

Popsy’s back behind the microphone as the band tackles a William Bell and Booker T. Jones tune, “My Kind of Girl.” “I like the way she holds me…oh, she’s alright with me, yea…she’s my kind of girl…how lucky can one man be.” Pretty lucky it sounds to me as Popsy more than does the tune justice while sharing his good fortune with the world. Wendell’s guitar is at the forefront tearing it up as we hear another tune he wrote, “Darkest Hour.” “I turned my head…and I looked the other way…and although, the night can be long…the darkest hour…is just before dawn.” Wendell’s lamenting his choice of a partner in this world and he’s letting her know that he would do things differently if he had them to do over.

Sherman’s tune, “Last Man Standing,” is next and he’s definitely got a specific goal in mind. “He’s dotting all his i’s, he’s crossing all his t’s, before you get the message…you’re caught up in his squeeze…I’ll take my chances….I’ll bide my time…I’ll make the one bid…to make you mine…I’ll be the last man standing…I’ll be the one to make you mine."

The Homes Brothers close out Brotherhood with a soul-stirring version of "Amazing Grace" that just has to be heard to be appreciated. The band is definitely grateful for all that God has given them over the years and I can’t think of a more perfect way for this disc to come to a close.

Brotherhood will be in my top ten list at the end of the year and I’m realizing that I’m due for another opportunity to see The Holmes Brothers up close and personal. You can grab a copy of this disc from the Brothers personally on their website at, but better yet grab a copy at one of their live shows. The experience will do your heart good and walking away with a copy of Brotherhood will just be the icing on the cake!

--- Kyle Deibler



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