Royal Southern Brotherhood
The Royal Gospel
You can’t keep a good
band down. Royal Southern Brotherhood has
seen a lot of personnel changes during their brief
history, but they have not only survived, they’ve
thrived, as can plainly be heard on their latest
release, The Royal Gospel (Ruf Records). The
current edition of RSB includes charter members
Cyril Neville (percussion/vocals) and Yonrico Scott
(drums), with recent additions Bart Walker and
Tyrone Vaughan (guitars/vocals), plus newest member
Darryl Phillips (bass/vocals).
One of the things I
enjoy the most about the RSB sound is their mix of
Southern rock (a la the Allman Brothers) with the
swampy New Orleans funk and R&B of the Neville
Brothers. The hard-working rhythm section,
rocket-fueled twin guitar attack, plus the sublime
Hammond B3 flourishes from guest Norman Caesar
really lift what is already a quality set of songs
(eight originals, four covers) several notches.
RSB rattles the
rafters with the power rocking opener, “Where
There’s Smoke There’s Fire,” “I’m Comin’ Home,” with
it’s sizzling slide guitar solo midway through, and
“Land of Broken Hearts.” “Blood Is Thicker Than
Water” provides a perfect combination of Allmanesque
guitar work with that deep Neville funk backdrop.
The optimistic lyrics of “I’ve Seen Enough To Know”
will certainly resonate with listeners keeping up
with current events, and Neville sings it like he
wrote it (it was penned by Jeff Silbar and Billy
Valentine…Silbar also co-wrote the lovely ballad,
“Face of Love”). Neville takes the lion’s share of
vocals, and he continues to be one of the most
expressive, and soulful, vocalist currently
practicing on the blues scene.
The slower tempo “I
Wonder Why” keeps a nice funky backbeat complemented
by Walker’s acoustic guitar, and “Everybody Pays
Some Dues” is a standout Cyril Neville original.
Walker takes the mic for the bluesy “Spirit Man,”
which features some tasty slide guitar from Vaughan.
“Hooked On The Plastic,” a jibe at materialism, and
“Can’t Waste Time” are a pair of fine funk workouts,
and the inspirational closer, “Stand Up,” is an
upbeat Neville/Walker collaboration that’s right in
With five albums in
four years(.), Royal Southern Brotherhood shows no
signs of slowing down, or running out of musical
ideas, both lyrically and musically. The Royal
Gospel finds RSB continuing to make music that will
cause inspiration and perspiration.