Derek Trucks Band – Already Free Album/CD Review
Rolling Stone named Derek Trucks in their list of 100 greatest guitarists off all time when he was only 24 years old. He is the permanent replacement for Duane Allman in The Allman Brothers Band, he has played with legendary musicians such as Eric Clapton, Buddy Guy, BB King and many more. His parents named him for Derek and the Dominos. With the latest album, Already Free from his band, The Derek Trucks Band, it is clear why so many people and institutes consider him a great guitarist.
I am inspired to write a review of this album/CD, because it seemed to me that previous releases tended to be a bit immature musically as an album, or lacked the ability to rock, or was some strange experiment with just screwing up roots music. That’s not to say that the Derek Trucks Band catalog is not worth listening to. Derek is a fine guitarist and he should be listened to on those merits alone. Already Free is for rockers who love the blues and roots music.
My first impression of Already Free was one of amazement. “I’ve never heard anyone play guitar like the way Derek Trucks is playing it!” I exclaimed to one of my friends. My excitement was warranted, but I listened to Duane Allman’s Anthology and grounded my original excitement. The album starts out with a cover of Bob Dylan’s “Down in the Flood.” Trucks and company make this sound like the blues song that Dylan had intended it to sound. One might mistake this one as being written in the Delta if not familiar with Bob Dylan.
The second song, “Something to Make You Happy,” may be my favorite track with its memorable melody. I tend to like songs that boogie and this one does. I can hear the influences of gospel in a few songs like “Maybe This Time” and “Sweet Inspiration.” One thing that surprised me was that “Maybe This Time” had a faint resemblance to the way Chris Whitley played guitar. “Down Don’t Bother Me,” may have the hottest guitar licks on the album. Trucks must have had smoke rolling off his pick and slide. Turn this one up. Susan Tedeschi, Trucks’ wife, makes an appearance on the Warren Hanes/Derek Trucks penned song “Back Where I Started.” This is a simple song highlighting the blues style vocals of Tedeschi with only minimal accompaniment.
This is the first Derek Trucks Band album that I will play after The Allman Brother Band – Eat a Peach. That says a lot about the goodness on this silver platter. The songs are strong and well conceived. The playing is masterful. Derek Trucks Band – Already Free is fine work for a band fronted by one of the greatest living guitarists.