The Vegas brothers (born ?Vasquez? of Mexican/Yaqui/Shoshone descent in Fresno, California) had a long, storied, albeit mostly invisible career for more than a decade before they hit pay dirt as the leaders of Redbone, who would release seven albums for Epic and RCA throughout the seventies, highlighted by 1971?s ?Witch Queen of New Orleans? and 1974?s ?Come and Get Your Love?). Numerous 45s (both solo and via pseudonyms like the Individuals, Sharks, Avantis and Routers) on obscure labels like Astra, Spear, Regency, Apogee and Sapien, and even a 1963 LP as the Deuce Coupes (possibly inspired by their days in The Beach Boys? touring band) preceded this supposedly live album (for starters, the audience is rather conspicuous in its absence!), recorded ?above the dance floor of the Haunted House,? as the effulgent liner notes would have us believe! The venue was THE hip nightspot in LA (located on the corner of Hollywood & Vine), and greeted entrants with life-sized wax figures of Frankenstein and Dracula. The specially designed stage featured a monster?s head which blew smoke (and the brothers? sound) through its nostrils! The album was co-produced by Leon Russell and Snuff Garrett and originally came out on Mercury in 1966.
Just don?t come expecting to hear too much of the genesis of Redbone and you will be pleasantly surprised! The album is more attuned to soul than the funky sound the brothers later perfected and features rip-snorting renditions of such soul classics as Wilson Pickett?s ?In The Midnight Hour,? James Brown?s ?Papa?s Got A Brand New Bag,? and the Rascals ?Good Lovin?? rubbing elbows with faithful versions of The Stones? ?Satisfaction? and the Four Tops? ?Baby, I Need Your Lovin.?? Five of their own originals are intermingled amongst the dozen tracks, including the marvelous pop shouter, ?Walk On (Right Out Of My Life)? that?s on par with the many hits Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart were writing for The Monkees at the time. Lolly?s blazing guitar solo highlights their more than faithful rendition of Brown?s ??Brand New Bag? and fans of Steve Cropper?s seminal work with the Mar-Keys and MG?s and the more recent Blues Brothers? revival should not wait another second before adding this to their collection, for live or not, this is a terrific party album.
Baby Boomers will scream right along with ?Baby I Need Your Lovin?? and drool over Lolly?s solo on the original stomper ?Here I Go (Falling In Love Again),? and his opening fuzzed-out burn on the classic opening riff to ?Satisfaction? sets the stage for a sloppy, Stoogey, garage take that?s as mean, lowdown and snarky as the Mickster himself. Their version of The Rascals? ?Good Lovin?? is surprisingly flat, despite another tasty solo from Lolly, suggesting the brothers were wise to leave the blue-eyed (i.e., ?white?) soul to Felix and Eddie and Alex (Box Tops) Chilton. Finally, ?Any Old Time? is one of the better originals, mixing the stratospheric squealing of the Four Seasons with a smooth, soulful backbeat, reminiscent of Little Anthony & The Imperials and Levi Stubbs and The Four Tops. And how they ever slipped the closing chorus, ?I get high? (from Huey ?Piano? Smith?s ?High Blood Pressure?) past the censors is a mystery lost to the ages, and, luckily for us, makes the swinging, frat party anthem more enjoyable and memorable! Currently, Pat continues to play and record as Redbone (and just released a new album, ?One World? in 2005), while older brother, Lolly sadly suffered a stroke about ten years ago and is no longer able to play guitar. So, until a compilation of the brothers? earlier sides sees the light of day (are you listening, Fallout?), you?ll have to make do with this delicious artifact of their formative years! 7/10 -- Jeff Penczak (27 March, 2007)