Album Review: BoDeans

BoDeans Amped Across America

*****[5/5]

Bodeans Amped Across America On the BoDeans new double live CD, Amped Across America,  remaining co-founder Kurt Neumann and his revamped band prove, without a doubt, that they can not only carry on the group’s music and mystique but also take them to new heights.

Recorded over the stretch of the band’s 2012 coast-to-coast tour, Amped Across America features everything you’ve come to expect from a BoDeans live show: new songs, old songs, red-hot rockers and smooth pop-ers.  Kurt Neumann is masterful, as always, in treating the band’s songs like fine wine, allowing them to breathe with extended solos and fresh arrangements. Therein lies the beauty of this album…the presentation of the songs.  

In the early 2000’s, the BoDeans sound shifted from rock to Americana, thanks in part to the amazing talents of Bukka Allen onBoDeans Dallas Concert keyboards/accordion.  It was a sound that gave new life to the band’s older material as well as setting the stage for albums to come, especially Still (produced by T Bone Burnett).  With Allen’s departure in 2011, the BoDeans shifted slightly away from Americana and more towards a Southern Rock sound, thanks partly to Warren Hood (fiddle) and Jake Owen (guitar).  The result is simply amazing!  On “Good Work,” the band turns a straight forward Chuck Berry inspired number into a funk-a-licious (yes, I made that word up) barn burner, mixing funk, blues and roadhouse rock.  On “Good Things,” the signature driving drum crescendo has been replaced, quite effectively, with an all-out hoedown throw down, featuring sizzling solos from Michael Ramos on organ and Hood on fiddle.

Not to worry though, my yankee friends…the band isn’t going totally Lynyrd Skynyrd on you…the straight forward rock numbers are still there like “Dreams” and “Tied Down and Chained,” as well as more recent pop numbers like “Stay” and “Everything You Wanted.”

Alas, there is one thing that bothers me about Amped Across America. In fact, it’s the same thing that bothers me about all of the BoDeans live albums…no matter how hard I try, I just can’t play them loud enough (it would be nice if I had speakers on steroids)!  

BoDeans Dallas ConcertAs soon as Kurt and the BoDeans begin the first song (“You Don’t Get Much”) on Amped Across America, one can’t help but get the feeling that something has changed.  For starters, Kurt sings, “There’s one boy holding stars for wishing.” When the song debuted in the 80s, the line was, “There’s two boys holding stars for wishing.” A likely reference to the early days of the band with Kurt and his fellow BoDeans co-founder. Yes, it’s just Kurt now. But he has assembled a band with incredible talent that is breathing new life into the classic BoDeans songs we fell in love with…AND setting the stage for exciting things to come in the future.  

Amped Across America is the BoDeans…here and now.  So crank it up…free your mind…and enjoy!

Read our review of the band’s 2013 Dallas concert!

What do you think of Amped Across America?  Share your thoughts with The Classic Rock Blog.

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