For all those fans of Stephen Stills’s 1968 classic Super Session, this collaboration with Electric Flag keyboardist Barry Goldberg and guitarist Kenny Wayne Shepherd is sure to spark some mixed emotions.
A homage to the alchemical combination of Stills, the late Mike Bloomfield (similarly from Electric Flag) and Blood, Sweat and Tears keyboardist Al Kooper, it has all the hallmarks of a venture guided by pure nostalgia. However, on Can’t Get Enough, Stills – who, let’s face it, has some experience of being in a three-piece – largely pulls it off.
Bone-crunching opener Mississippi Road House has a spontaneity which suggests this is a trio for whom Pro Tools are something you find at B&Q. After this, they embark on three-way interplay – assisted by a crack band featuring Stevie Ray Vaughan sticksman Chris Layton and CSN bassist Kevin McCormick – which borders on the kinetic. A sinful take on Big Maybelle’s That’s A Pretty Good Love is fast and loose, as funky as a Mexican bordello, while Stills weighs in with a gravel-throated Can’t Get Enough Of Loving You.
Shepherd, a whippersnapper at 35, and clearly galvanised by such illustrious company, delivers a solo which all but triggers the studio smoke alarm. If the Delta blues are (inevitably) got on a trawl through Muddy Waters’s Honey Bee, Stills’s existential woe feels genuine on a meditative Don’t Want Lies, where he growls: ‘I got good days and bad days/I sometime wonder how I make it through the week.’ A gritty Only Teardrops Fall, meanwhile, is as tender as it is understated.
In fact, it’s only on pointless covers of Iggy And The Stooges’ Search And Destroy and – yes – Neil Young’s Rockin’ In The Free World that you feel you’re earwigging on a well-heeled bar band shooting the breeze.
There’s one final ace left up their sleeve. An unrecorded relic from Stills’s Buffalo Springfield days, closer Word Game has been resurrected in honour of this all-electric band. The result is a tour de force. With Stills delivering a righteous howl against a straight world full of whining intellectuals, corrupt politicians and cynical multinationals, all wrapped around a sledgehammer beat, it’s solid proof that 60s idealism hasn’t entirely bitten the dust.
“This is the blues band of my dreams,” Stills has said of his new outfit. On this evidence, the pleasure is mutual.