No stranger to top flight musical partnerships, legendary singer-songwriter and Buffalo Springfield/CSN/CSN&Y principal Stephen Stills unites with fellow guitar slinger Kenny Wayne Shepherd and venerable Electric Flag keyboardist Barry Goldberg to form the new all-star blues-rock group The Rides. The multi-generational outfit’s debut album, Can’t Get Enough, is set for CD, digital, and vinyl release August 27 on 429 Records. Featuring four co-written originals, a handful of covers, and a vintage, previously unrecorded Stills gem, Can’t Get Enough was inspired by—and is an homage to—the now-classic 1968 album Super Session, which featured Stills on guitar on one side, and the late Mike Bloomfield on the other (Bloomfield had founded Electric Flag with Goldberg, who also played on Super Session, as did Blood, Sweat & Tears keyboardist Al Kooper). As The Rides bring a historic and distinctively American musical form into the 21st century, Stills calls the group the “the blues band of my dreams.”
The project began with Stills and Goldberg writing together at their mutual manager Elliot Roberts’ recommendation. “It was like finding a long lost soul brother,” says Goldberg (who hadn’t met Stills before, their shared 1968 credit notwithstanding). “We connected on so many things, started jamming, and soon had begun writing our first song.” Next came Kenny Wayne Shepherd, and their three-way chemistry was immediate and intense. “The Rides are a perfect mix of generations, where three musicians who love and play the blues collide and create music that goes beyond all our other individual life experiences and career achievement,” says 35-year-old, Shepherd, who’s had five #1 Blues albums. “Stephen and I have rock backgrounds as well, but the blues is the fabric that holds this all together.” Stills says, “It was just really magical with the three of us, one of the best times I’ve had in my musical career.”
That exhilarating creative sorcery blasts through ten fire-breathing tracks, four of them Stills/Shepherd/Goldberg co-writes including the album-opening barnburner “RoadHouse”—about the life of an itinerant bluesman—the melodic, CSN-esque “Don’t Want Lies,” and the title track, a groove soaked, guitar-heavy anthem with a soul-baring lead vocal by Stills. Other highlights include a Crazy Horse-caliber send-up of “Rockin’ In The Free World”—“Everyone gets off on this one,” says Goldberg, “just a ton of electricity on this Neil Young classic.” The four additional covers are the tracks on which Shepherd sings lead, including “Talk To Me Baby” and “Honey Bee” by blues giants Elmore James and Muddy Waters, respectively, and Iggy Pop & The Stooges’ “Search and Destroy,” which The Rides truly make their own. The album closes with the raucous “Word Game,” a song Stills wrote during his late ’60s era with Buffalo Springfield, but never recorded. “It was an old acoustic song that I had fun adapting to an electric band,” he says.
The in-the-moment energy and unscripted emotion of Can’t Get Enough, however, are among the album’s greatest strengths, as is the powerhouse guitar interplay between Stills and Shepherd, and the stellar accompaniment from Goldberg—who, as a teenager in his native Chicago, sat in with Muddy Waters, Otis Rush and Howlin’ Wolf, and went on to play keyboards for Bob Dylan at the Newport Folk Festival, formed The Electric Flag, and composed with Gerry Goffin. The album was recorded live in the studio over the course of about a week at EastWest in Los Angeles, helmed by longtime Shepherd producer Jerry Harrison, a renowned musician in his own right (Talking Heads, Modern Lovers, Casual Gods). Mostly first or second takes made the album’s final cut. In addition to Layton—Shepherd’s drummer, and also a veteran of Stevie Ray Vaughan’s Double Trouble—the players include bassist Kevin McCormick (CSN, Jackson Browne).
“In the spirit of that simple, raw authentic 40s and 50s blues music the three of us love, we got in there and boom! A few takes and we were done,” says Stills. “The songs have muscle, they don’t sound dated or contrived, they’re very natural and organic. I can’t wait to tour with these guys and start recording again!” The Rides will tour the world beginning in September, with concert dates to be announced soon.