The Amazing Rhythm Aces

Between You & Us

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This 1979 performance has been floating around tape-trading circles ever since it was first broadcast on KFML in Denver, CO. Likewise, a pre-FM distillation of the show surfaced in 1999 as Concert Classics, Vol. 3. In fact, Between You & Us is a UK reissue of that disc. Regardless of which incarnation should avail itself, the documented performance is a fiery and rollicking ride -- perfectly encapsulating what made the Amazing Rhythm Aces among the finest and, ironically (if not somewhat criminally), equally overlooked American rock bands of the '70s. Even though they are on the road supporting Burning the Ballroom Down -- their fourth album in three years -- this live set includes very little from that disc, as "I Pity the Mother and the Father" is the sole representative. This show also correlates with the recent departure of founding member Barry Burton prior to commencing the tour. His replacement, Duncan Cameron, is front and center during this show and would continue with the Amazing Rhythm Aces through their various re-formations in the '80s and beyond. One of the band's most endearing qualities is the uncanny ability to parley its Memphis roots far beyond traditional blue-eyed soul. As guitarists Cameron and Russell Smith trade licks throughout, at times they rival the rapport between their ABC Records labelmates Walter Becker and Jeff "Skunk" Baxter from Steely Dan. The seemingly intuitive lead guitars on "Who's Crying Now" retain the same bite as the Dan's "Kid Charlemagne." Another dynamic duo in the band consists of keyboardists Billy Earheart III (organ) and James Hooker (piano/clavinet). The two are able to enhance each other, weaving melodies and punctuations most notably on acoustic outings such as "Amazing Grace (Used to Be Her Favorite Song)" and "These Dreams of Loving You" -- which additionally exemplify the Amazing Rhythm Aces' wide scope of distinctly American music. Most of the tunes featured on this set are from the Stacked Deck and Too Stuffed to Jump albums. These discs feature such fan favorites as the raucous blues shuffle "Hit the Nail on the Head" and the funky "Anything You Want" -- both of which are propelled by Earheart and Hooker. The band is also looking forward to its next self-titled release -- which would include a cover of Al Green's "Love and Happiness" -- perfectly tethering the bandmembers back to their soul roots. Between You & Me is good starting point for the curious and a worthwhile addition for the converted.

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