Freebird's Calling (2016)

This German band had not released anything since 2014. It now offers a new record composed of eight tracks and devoted once again to Southern rock covers. The album begins in a Texan atmosphere with « Dust my broom » in the style of ZZ Top but a bit faster and embellished with a saturated harmonica and a good slide solo. Then comes Doc Holliday's « Thunder and lightning » (a combo that left a deep mark in Germany) opening with a thunderous sound and a long intro to synthesizers. This track is close to the original version with a hard rock solo well sent. The Germans have also opted for a cover of « Dreams » from the Allman Brothers Band but in the Molly Hatchet version. The solo is close to the original but the addition of a keyboard on the fast passage slightly surprises. To stay in Allman territory, the instrumental "Jessica" is not badly reproduced but we feel that the bans is trying too much to copy the original title. And even if the pianist is doing pretty well, the guitar solo does not necessarily raise enthusiasm. Is not Dickey Betts or Chuck Leavell who wants! Back to ZZ Top with a good-sounding « Tush » wrapped in a very mushy harmonica. On the other hand, our Teutonic Knights could have refrained from covering « Ghost riders in the sky ». Of course, this traditional tune has seen countless versions (some of which are performed by huge stars like Johnny Cash or Frankie Laine). But, from the intro, we immediately guess the desire to copy the Outlaws (which is impossible, of course). Hughie Thomasson being by nature inimitable, this cover is very disappointing, especially since the final solo appears to be rather soft. Be careful not to aim too high! Paradoxically, the personal and simplified version of « Freebird » would appear as the best title of the album. The participation of a female singer sticks well to the ballad part. The final guitar solo does not copy the original and is dubbed with an organ solo. However, we can deplore the disappearance of the break with triplets at the third. A will to personalize this mythical tune or attempt to get around the difficulty? The album ends with the traditional "Pine box" with a female voice and backing vocals without any other musical accompaniment.
Well, all this is kindly allowed to listen. The sound is satisfying and the whole sounds coherent. The musicians of the General Lee Band are passionate about Southern rock and we can hear it. They all have a good technical level even if a few small reservations must be made about the singer. Of course, he just sings and has a good hoarse voice (necessary for this style of music) but that sometimes lacks relief and aggressiveness on certain titles. But this may be due to mixing or lack of effects. Apart from these slight remarks, here is a disc quite correct but it raises a legitimate question: where is the interest of this kind of approach? At a concert, a few well-played covers can thrill the audience, but releasing albums that are only made up of standards does not really bring anything else. In three years, have not General Lee's musicians had the time or the desire to compose personal songs? Really amazing! That said, some amateurs love this kind of production so ... why not? We can therefore qualify this group of "tribute band" dedicated to Southern rock in general. In general ... Lee, of course.

Olivier Aubry

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