Blues supergroup The Rides announce new album Pierced Arrow
Stephen Stills, Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Barry Goldberg do it again
Breaking more fresh new blues-rock ground than ever on their raucous and soulful new album Pierced Arrow, The Rides are letting their growing legion of fans know they’re in this for the long haul. Their ongoing freewheeling journey is all there in the name. When they came up with that clever moniker for what Stephen Stills calls “the blues band of my dreams,” the two-time Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, five time Grammy nominated guitar great Kenny Wayne Shepherd and renowned Chicago rock/blues keyboardist Barry Goldberg knew it was more than just a one time, multi-generational fusion of legendary musical souls. They envisioned – and have since set out upon – a dynamic, wide open road ahead.
The trio laid the simmering groundwork for all this by calling their debut album Can’t Get Enough – because once they started writing, recording and jamming together, they couldn’t. Just before its release, Stills said, “As good as I think The Rides are now, we can’t wait to get some live gigs under our belt.” Goldberg echoed, “As proud as we are of the album, fans are going to see something even more exciting from us when we start playing these songs live.” And they did. Those few wild months of touring the U.S. – combined with hitting the Top 40 on the Billboard 200, and a nomination for Best Rock Blues Album at the 2014 Blues Music Awards – sealed the deal. They were in it for the long haul. ”
For Stills, Shepherd and Goldberg, the process of writing songs from scratch on Can’t Get Enough and then touring opened an exciting new feeling of intimacy that fueled the creative process of writing and recording Pierced Arrow. The lead vocals are about evenly split between Stills’ raw, weathered vibe and Shepherd’s passionate grit, and Stills had the ingenious idea on the easy flowing reflective ballad “Virtual World” to, a la CSN, blend their voices into a sweet harmonic dual lead. “There was something so magical to me about harmonizing with this man who is so well known for this kind of thing,” says Shepherd. “Crosby, Stills, Nash and now me!”
What Shepherd calls their “united vision” for the band is the through line that jumps off hard with the fiery Rolling Stones influenced blues rocker “Kick Out Of It” and the equally explosive jam “Riva Diva.” From there, lyrically and musically, the moods are always in a playful state of flux. Shepherd’s lead on the atmospheric rootsy acoustic ballad “By My Side” gives way to Stills’ lament over some high energy riffs, explaining speed to “Mr. Policeman.” Stills’ “Game On” is all blistering, harmonica laden high octane roadhouse blues – and Shepherd answers with his equally potent lead on the romantic rockabilly jam “I Need Your Lovin’,” which features one of Goldberg’s trademark piano romp solos. The other two originals are “There Was A Place,” a slice of graceful soul heaven showcasing Stills’ softer side; and the sizzling, kick-ass closer “Same Old Dog,” which finds him making a political statement about how history all too often repeats itself.
Just as on Can’t Get Enough, Pierced Arrow includes a few iconic covers. In the early 70s, Goldberg (writing with the late, legendary lyricist Gerry Goffin) scored a hit for Gladys Knight & The Pips with “I’ve Got To Use My Imagination,” but it was the slow-burning Bobby “Blue” Bland version which inspired The Rides’ new twist. “Kenny loved this version,” Goldberg says, “and insisted that we perform it on our first tour with that arrangement.” Shepherd was also responsible for suggesting Willie Dixon’s 1955 blues standard “My Babe” after he heard it on a blues internet station while driving to the studio one day. “I love the message,” he says. “It’s the unique blues song that glorifies women rather than talks about bad experiences with them!”
Perfectly summarizing The Ride’s continuing journey and what the making of the new album has meant to the trio, Goldberg says, “It’s so great to be back recording and playing live on this high level again with Stephen and Kenny Wayne, and we’re really excited about the music on Pierced Arrow. I love The Rides’ first album and we were all very happy with it, but this one is even better because it reflects how we’re evolving into a real band. The chemistry is just so good between the three of us. We all have so much respect for each other. When we recorded the first album, we knew it wasn’t just a one shot deal – but along the way, and through touring, we actually found out just how well we played together. Besides realizing how much fun and exciting it was, we were inspired by the opportunity to break new ground every time we got onstage, getting tighter all the time until we evolved from three veteran artists playing together into a real unified ensemble.”
Adding to that eloquence, Stills has just one thing to ask: “Can we PLEASE get this new stuff in front of a live audience soon?” They may not be driving a Pierce-Arrow, but no doubt they’ll be out there.
Pierced Arrow will be released on May 6.
Listen to “Virtual World” from the upcoming album by The Rides:
All star blues band The Rides to release their newest album “Pierced Arrow” via Provogue on May 6
Separated in age by a musical generation but bonded by a mutual love of classic cars and the blues, two time Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Stephen Stills and five-time Grammy nominated singer, guitarist and songwriter Kenny Wayne Shepherd draw fire from their extraordinary collective histories–and join forces with famed Chicago rock/blues keyboardistBarry Goldberg–to blaze a fresh trail for the historical American art form in the 21st Century.
Launching an exciting new chapter in each of their storied careers, the trio’s band THE RIDES—which Stills dubs “the blues band of my dreams,” built to last beyond the concept of a one time all-star gathering—is further powered by the explosive rhythm section of bassist Kevin McCormick and Shepherd’s longtime drummer Chris Layton (also a veteran of Stevie Ray Vaughan’s Double Trouble).
The Rides – Pierced Arrow
Release date: 6 May 2016
Tracklisting Deluxe CD:
1. Kick Out Of It
2. Riva Diva
3. Virtual World
4. By My Side
5. Mr. Policeman
6. I’ve Got To Use My Imagination
7. Game On
8. I Need Your Lovin’
9. There Was A Place
10. My Babe
11. Same Old Dog