The Lee BoysThe Lee Boys fuse traditional gospel with pedal steel guitar and a contemporary sound. Are you already thinking, Robert Randolph and the Family Band? Well, not exactly......
The Lee Boys

11 tracks / 59 minutes

First there was Robert E. Lee. No – not that Robert E. Lee. This one was a church elder and father/grandfather to members of The Lee Boys, gospel group and practitioners of sacred steel - a hybrid of traditional gospel, blues, R & B, soul and rock, prominently featuring the unmistakable sound of lap steel guitar. If you're thinking Robert Randolph and the Family Band, you're not very far off. Less rambunctious and more overtly spiritual than Randolph, The Lee Boys certainly have moments where the jamming, intensity and over-all sound rivals Robert's band.

Of course, there are two things you have to like to get into Testify: gospel music and the sound of a lap steel guitar. The soloing from the lap steel is the constant from track to track, wailing and soaring, often through a wah-wah and other effect pedals. The band is tight and competent, fronted by Alvin Lee (no – not that Alvin Lee), who leads the group through new compositions and variations of familiar gospel themes, a few traditionals ("I'm Not Tired," "So Much to Live For," "Wade in the Water") and Andrae Crouch's "We Need To Hear From You" as a closer. There are some nicely funky moments, some exciting guitar playing, and even a hot horn part or two thrown in for good measure. The band even manages to cop a riff off of Stevie's "I Wish" and insert it into "Sinnerman."

The vocals are good, but not the selling point here – that would be the edge provided by the guitars and the rock drumming, bringing the sound out of the traditional gospel box and ever so slightly into the rock arena (also into the formidable shadow of the aforementioned Robert Randolph).

The Lee Boys are: brothers Alvin Lee (guitar), Derrick Lee and Keith Lee (vocals), nephews Roosevelt Collier (pedal steel guitar), Alvin Cordy, Jr (seven string Bass) and Earl Walker (drums). Helping out is Sixpence None The Richer's Matt Slocum, doing an excellent job on organ, piano, and additional keyboards (didn't expect to see that name, did you?). The bottom line is, this is a fun, sincere album that has all of the earmarks of a first project. Good stuff. The Lee Boys biggest hurdle, no doubt, will be proving that they are more than just Robert Randolph lite.

-Bert Saraco


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