The Rock House All Stars
Let It Bleed Revisited – An Ovation From Nashville
Publicity: Blind Raccoon
Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © September 2022
If you’re going to pay tribute to arguably the greatest rock and roll band of all time, by revisiting what is arguably their greatest album of all time, the best way to do it is with a bunch of world class musicians, and that’s unarguably who the co-producers assembled on this masterpiece.
On Let It Bleed Revisited – An Ovation From Nashville, the members of The Rock House All Stars are: co-producers John Heithaus on bass and Kevin McKendree* on keyboards, guitars, backing vocals and percussion; Yates McKendree* on drums and Rob McNelley on acoustic & electric guitars and solos. Additionally, guest all-stars include: James Pennebaker* mandolin and steel guitar; Jimmy Hall* and Stephen Hanner on harmonica; Andrew Carney on French horn; Luke Bulla* on fiddle; and Sarah and Rachel Hambridge on backing vocals. The lead singers who were handpicked to perform each track include: Jimmy Hall; Bekka Bramlett; Emil Justian; Lee Roy Parnell; Seth James; Greg Mayo; Rick Huckaby; Nalani Rothrock; Mike Farris; Wendy Moten; SARACHEL (Sara and Rachel); Lilly Hiatt; and Luke Bulla. * asterisks indicate a Grammy Award winning artist.
During the first thirty seconds of “Gimme Shelter”, the disc’s opening track, Rob and Kevin nail the very recognizable guitar and percussion intro and from then on, flashbacks start running rampant. Vocally, just as Mick and Merry (Clayton) were on the original version, Jimmy Hall and Bekka Bramlett are a daunting duo on the powerful vocals. What I found most interesting about this pairing is that for the original recording, The Stones had wanted Bonnie Bramlett to sing it but her husband Delaney did not want her performing with them. Now, some fifty plus years later, their daughter is crushing the part meant for her mom. Something tells me that this was no coincidence.
As capable and comfortable as this talented bunch are playing every song on this album – or for that matter, any other album they may choose to revisit – “Country Honk”, a.k.a. “Honky Tonk Woman” was kinda made for them. The song’s got Nashville written all over it and after all, these guys are Nashville. Pairing Lee Roy Parnell on the vocals with Luke Bulla on the fiddle was pure genius. Of course, the nucleus of the band is fabulous, as well, with John, Yates, Kevin and Rob all killing it on rhythm, piano and guitar.
One of my favorite songs from the original album was always the title track – “Let It Bleed” – and actually, nothing’s changed. Just as I loudly, probably even noisily, sang along with Mick back then, I’m now doing it with Emil Justian and Greg Mayo. And as far as the slide guitar goes, Keith’s got nothing on Rob.
With the band working their musical magic behind them – especially on that extended mid-song instrumental jam – “Midnight Rambler” features Rick Huckaby and Stephen Hanner shining on the fabulous Jaggeresque vocals and harp blowing. Conversations involving bands doing cover songs often address the bands’ ability to make them their own. That said, when the material is as classic as this and the album is a tribute to the original band, that’s not a topic worthy of visiting – which The Rock House All Stars didn’t.
With its catchy sing-along chorus line, and its amazing vocal presentations, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” was pretty much another favorite track of many. That said, in spite of not having The London Bach Choir helping them out, Wendy Moten and SARACHEL definitely showed up and filled some pretty big shoes. Musically, simply look at the instruments listed above in the credits, and it was pretty much all going on.
Since it was on Sticky Fingers and not Let It Bleed, “Wild Horses” was featured as a bonus track, and hearing the vocal duet of the angelic Lilly Hiatt and the soulful Luke Bulla, it was just that.
As you most likely already know, other tracks on Let It Bleed Revisited – An Ovation From Nashville, include: “Love In Vain”, “Live With Me”, “You Got the Silver”, and “Monkey Man”.
I don’t exactly know if this could ever become a thing, but having done such an amazing job with Let It Bleed I can think of a handful of other albums I’d love to hear The Rock House All Stars revisit. How ’bout it, John and Kevin?
To find out more about The Rock House All Stars, just go to – www.qualifiedrecords.com. Remember, whomever you contact, please tell them their friend the Blewzzman sent you.
“The Blues Is My Passion And Therapy“
Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro
Blues Editor @ www.Mary4Music.com
2011 “Keeping The Blues Alive” Award Recipient