by Fifi Korda
Ever wanted to be lost in some bar down in Columbia with only a funk band, cocktails and some crazy dancing to entertain you? If so, this is the album for you. At the age of just 23, Derek Trucks released his third studio album Joyful Noise on 2 September 2002. Having already worked as a guitarist alongside the greats such as Bob Dylan, Joe Walsh, Stephen Stills and the Allman Brothers Band, Trucks can be trusted to create one if the best albums of the noughties.
The album features an eclectic mix music including styles such as Latin, Indian, fusion jazz, blues, funk and even R&B. This may sound like too much to handle, but the fabulous guest vocalists and edgy, electric guitar solos from the band leader create a smooth link between the various styles.
The opening title track immediately transports its audience to the sweet land of Gospel music with its unashamed use of the Hammond organ (Kofi Burbridge). Drummer Yonrico Scott brings a slick, funky beat to the mix, whilst Derek Trucks’s slide work oozes through the texture. This style is continued both in ‘Every Good Boy’ and Susan Tedeschi’s confident and sultry version of James Brown’s song ‘Baby, You’re Right’.
From this energising track we are transported from the Gospel Church to a more dream-like state in ‘So Close, So Far Away’ in which the music moves through a series of uplifting modulations in a thick yet growing texture that is typical of the Derek Trucks Band. This instrumental interlude is soon interrupted with the husky vocals of soul man Solomon Burke (one of the founding fathers of soul music in the 1960s) in ‘Home in Your Heart’. Burke had, in fact, recorded this track 30 years earlier, and it is interesting to compare the two versions of the classic southern rock song, originally written by Otis Blackwell. Derek Trucks takes the track at a much quicker pace, adding guitar distortion and creating a greater sense of urgency to the original, more laid-back version. Yet Burke does not show his age, and takes the lead on the new song ‘Like Anyone Else’ with his powerful, sexy voice.
After this storm of noise, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, a renowned Pakistani musician, joins the band with ‘Maki Madni’. In this version of the traditional Qawwali tune, the tabla, guitar drones and Eastern vocals are fused with Trucks’s blues guitar playing. This fusion makes for an interesting and somewhat liberating sound that leads neatly into my favourite track of the album: ‘Kam – Ma – Lay’. This steamy salsa/funk/rock fusion features Rubén Blades, a Panamanian singer, on vocals, and reminisces Carlos Santana’s fusion albums. Featuring an epic instrumental flute solo from the album’s keyboardist Burbridge, one can even find oneself transported to Ron Burgundy’s talent down at Tino’s, Seattle. Burbridge also supplies the album with his electric jazz composition ‘Lookout 31’, featuring multiple tight drum solos that allow Scott to let rip. This metal-like jazz track shows the band’s great skill in their ability to stay together through syncopation, adventurous harmonies and virtuosic solos. The eclectic album ends on a jazzy note with the instrumental track ‘Frisell’, which could be seen as an homage to one of America’s greatest guitarist Bill Frisell. The ballad has a lazy feel to it with the distortion and slide techniques used by Derek Trucks.
When listening to Joyful Noise, you can’t help but start dancing and singing along in joy. This slick album retains a rough quality which can transport you to a live atmosphere, as well as transporting you around the world with its eclectic style and amazing guest artists. The band’s talent is undeniable in this album, which simply sparkles with life.