The highly instrumental Rusted Root are an example that different is good. Few to maybe no bands can or have captured their unique style, sound, or influence. The sounds this seven member band incorporates is a highly progressive, and jam filled influence of Middle East, African, American Traditional, and Latin music. Rusted Root as well as being as musically odd as they are, are a Jam Band. So, they have a tendency to tour relentlessly, do long, energetic jams, and of course are heavily influenced.
The percussion overdosed group was put to together and formed by band leader, and lead vocalist/guitarist Michael Glabicki. It was in the city of Pittsburgh, and during the year of 1990 that he gathered four other musicians to create the initial line up. The band at the moment did lack John Buynak and Daniel James "Jim" DiSpirito. Though they would be added within a single year. Within one year from getting there most known lineup, they released an album. The album was entitled Cruel Sun
, and contained several tracks that would be featured on the following album. Critically the album was not a success, nor did it gain them fame because it was hardly released.. Though, two years after, Rusted Root recorded their most famous album to this day, When I Woke
When I Woke
was not much of a success as a whole, but soon enough it did spawn a hit. "Send me on my Way" would soon be a top 40 hit, and make its way on to many different soundtracks. One actually being Matilda
. The album does contain many different forms of tracks. Some being based on percussion some on guitar. Some sang by Michael, some not. Some American influenced, some African influenced. Either way, a portion of the album is filled up with quality songs, and more unique highpoints that one can only imagine. If you ever go out and buy When I Woke
or purchase anything from Rusted Root, it's important to keep an open mind about everything. The vocals, though I believe have a beautiful sense, and that each vocalist has fabulous voices, they (Especially Michael) sing in an odd, mumbling like style. So, the words are usually very hard to understand. But it makes the vocals that much more of an important instrument. Being that the words are not necessarily needed, just the overall sound.
Some standout tracks on this album would have to be, "Send me on my Way". It is an incredibly fun, beautiful and catchy tune. And just so easy to get into. The fourth track "Cruel Sun" is probably the climax, progressive wise. It has a great mystique like way to it.. I am also extremely fond of the opening song "Drum Trip". Which is strictly a heavy, powerful, hand drum jam. Which opens the album in quite an amazing way. Other than those standouts tracks, I have lately been addicted to "Rain", a nice Country number. And "Martyr", a perfect upbeat track. One other highlight I would like to mention about this album is the compositions. A great deal of songs are composed and put together fabulously. Each track is not kept to one formula, each is completely different the others. So, overall I do not believe this is exactly Rusted Root's best (I haven't heard everything), but it is amazing to listen to, and quite different.
"Drum Trip" is an amazing opener. It is strongly based around percussion, particularly hand drums. Strait from the beginning, it starts up with great energy, and fabulous beats and perfect rythm and timing. Gives off the idea that these guys really can groove and have great jam qualities, which they can and absolutely do. At around one minute and thirty seconds, the drumming slightly tones and down. And some soothing, yet kind of erie vocals from the women come in. They all sing single notes, and quickly add power and volume to the notes each second. There is also some odd random background speech, and wind instruments used on "Drum Trip". All together, it's a very interesting song. It's really hard for me to rate this, and it's a filler. So, 4.9/5.
Here is a Latin influenced piece. The guitar playing, the rythm, and especially the vocals show the Latin influence off to a great extent. I love the bass lines, that match the drum beats perfectly. The overall production by itself is amazing. The guitar solos incorporated can not be more fitting to the song. The song includes three of them. The first only with one guitarist, and the second includes two. Each basically dueling with the other for the spotlight. And the third with only one guitarist. Rythmicly, this tracm can not get better, but there is just something that lacks. 4.9/5
Send me on my Way
This is the climax. It doesn't get better than this. The track opens with some great, beautiful guitar playing. Following that, the famous baritone vocal line of simply "On my way" enter. Following the Michael's vocals come in beautiful, and in such an odd and unorthodox way. He really manages to cover different ranges, very interesting. The track quickly forms into a breakdown, where each musician enter and just adds so much power. The flutes play beautiful rythm, and of course the percussion and bass lines can not be better. But the highlight has to be either Michael's voice, the guitar playing, or just the overall sense and feeling the song throws out. Absolutely perfect. 5/5
"Cruel Sun" is very deep and progressive in a way. Almost creepy. The combination of the erie vocals, the guitars strumming, and the rapid flute playing, just make it very abstract and, deep, as I mentioned before. Surprisingly, the vocals are not as hard to understand. So, it's a perfect opening to judge the lyrics. Which I find very real, understandable. But, on this track, they seem to be more mythical, and kind of seem to have a hidden meaning. The track runs at eight minutes exactly, and it manages to show signs of Jazz influence. Mostly through the jams, and stunning rythm. 4/5
Cat Turned Blue
Here is a Funkish like number. It's heavily lead by a powerful drum beat. And built up fabulously by some strait up good bass lines, some beautiful flute playing, ect. The lyrics are quite unique and entertaining at some points. Particularly the chorus. Also, throughout the song, the Funk sound kind of drifts off, but the great groove remains. Oddly enough, there is not that much more to it. Fabulous composition, and the lyrics are sang with a great attitude. 4.5/5
"Beautiful People" starts out with a beautiful opening. Simply some acoustic guitar playing. Soon enough some soothing acoustic bass playing, percussion, and flute add to the mix. Michael's voice slowly enters in a very subtle way. He does add various amounts of power to his voice, and that just adds so much of a depth feeling. Like most Jam Bands, they also include some scat, similar to some in the previous tracks. Though one may think they are actually words, being that the vocal style used by Rusted Root makes most of the words sound like nonsensical rambling. As well as Michael's powerful voice, and the scat, the women of the band take up the backing vocals fantastically.
This track opens with some rapid acoustic guitar playing. It gives off a small sign gives off an idea that this track will have a great groove, which it does. I've always loved positive sounding songs, and this completely satisfies me. The groove is fabulous, everything flows, the vocals could not be better. It amazes how most do not know about this band. They are almost perfection to me. I love everything this track offers. Other than the pluses I previously mention about this song. The number also included false endings, short tempo changes, skat, and great solos. 5/5
"Rain"'s just a magnifent American traditonal resembling song. I hear mixes of Bluegrass, Folk, Country, and Blues. Very upbeat, led by the harmonica, and some amazing solos. Can say it resembles some Allman Brothers songs, like "Ramblin' Man" or "Blue Sky". Of Course the song has their odd vocals styling. And what would a nice Bluegrass type of song be without a Banjo solo? Uneven, so the track of course includes one. :) 5/5
Food & Creative Love
Here's kind of a mix of Blues and Funk. Strongly based on the base, but kept interesting with harmonica work, and the women vocalists. The very simple bass line adds a great groove to the already good song. At about two minutes in, everything picks up, but the heavy groovy bass lines still leads. Michael takes over the vocals from the ladies at the point and proceeds to the chorus. The chorus is simply "All I want is food & creative love". And oddly enough, they throw a solo resembling a Rock solo. Not common on this album at all. Okay song. 3/5
Lost in a Crowd
This song is quite hard to describe. It's kind of a mix of many different rythms and timings. The lyrics are quite simple, but nothing bad nor anything to get excited about. The recording is of course acoustic, instrumentally it is practically flawless. It's heavily based around vocals. Mainly the backing vocals skating. I don't particularly find anything that great about this song. 2/5
Laugh as the Sun
"Laugh as the Sun", like "Cruel Sun" has a great deal of mystique to it. It also sounds almost as if it has a Native American influence. Which is quite a new sound to the album. Highly based on the bass line and drum beats, similar to many other Rusted Root songs. I do like the various rapid tempo changes the song has, almost unnoticeable. Other than it's progressive feel and it's Native American influence, it's nothing to get excited about. 2.9/5
A sitar is actually used in this piece. The combination of the sitar, percussion, tribal calls, and odd vocals, just give this song so much. It only runs at one minute and fifty-three seconds though. But it does run strait through to the finals track. As if it was one, obviously. So, I will not rate this.
Back to Earth
"Back to Earth", the final track. As I said before, the previous track runs strait through this song, as though it was one. The piece has a great feel to it. Slightly positive, but more beautiful. Fabulous percussion is mixed with great tribal like calls also. Some acoustic playing backs up the mix nicely. And then Michael's voice comes in both singing lead, and adding to the calls at times. The chorus particularly stands out to me. I would tell you the lyrics, but they are both rather hard to find online, and understand. To keep the song alive, at about three minutes and ten seconds the track makes a huge change. It all suddenly gets hugely percussion led, and the chorus changes. "Heyo mama free my soul" is repeated during the second chorus. There's few other words to describe it than just "Great". Soon enough the acoustic guitar and sitar come in. Perfectly matching. This is just perfect, and amazing. Rusted Root could not have picked a better closer. 5/5
This album is absolutely fabulous, almost perfect. 8.9/10