Redbone - Redbone reissue album review

Native Americans get lost in the mix

Redbone album cover

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A native American band formed at the end of the 60s out of the Los Angeles session scene (apparently encouraged by Jimi Hendrix, who had Cherokee blood), Redbone’s influences spread far wider than their shared ancestry, encompassing everything from soul and funk to Tex Mex, country and Latin.

Adding to this eclectic mix, they had a guitarist who played through a Leslie rotating speaker, and a drummer who could conjure up a wild beat somewhere between a Bo Diddley rhythm and a manic surf stomp. In fact, their Native American roots were scarcely visible, although that didn’t stop CBS Records, who were still trying to count the money they’d made out of Santana, from shamelessly plugging the ethnic angle. They also indulged Redbone with a double album for starters, which in retrospect was a mistake as they hadn’t yet worked up an identity.

After a strong start with the swampy Crazy Cajun Cakewalk Band that sounds eerily like the Alabama 3, the bombastic Prehistoric Rhythm and the poppy Niki Hokey, they start to drift, and while the playing never falters, there’s a shortage of memorable hooks. They didn’t have enough material either, as the increasing number of extended jams towards the end indicates. [So you’ve got reservations, then? – Ed.]

Hugh Fielder

Hugh Fielder has been writing about music for 47 years. Actually 58 if you include the essay he wrote about the Rolling Stones in exchange for taking time off school to see them at the Ipswich Gaumont in 1964. He was news editor of Sounds magazine from 1975 to 1992 and editor of Tower Records Top magazine from 1992 to 2001. Since then he has been freelance. He has interviewed the great, the good and the not so good and written books about some of them. His favourite possession is a piece of columnar basalt he brought back from Iceland.