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The Subdudes - Live at the Ram's Head
CD Review by Jud Conway on 1/23/2009   

The Subdudes have spent the past two decades developing a unique blend of harmony-rich, groove-laden, folksy rock-and-roll with jazz dynamics and R&B leanings. The band was co-founded in 1987, by a diverse group of New Orleans-based musicians that included Tommy Malone (vocals, guitar) and John Magnie (vocals, keyboards) of the now-defunct Percolators, and Steve Amedée (vocals, percussion) of the Continental Drifters.

After ten years on the road, the band took a seven year sabbatical from circa 1997-2004. They returned with renewed vigor and released some of their most inspired and fully-realized work to date. Featuring the aforementioned founding members, plus subsequent additions Tim Cook (vocals, percussion, bass) and Jimmy Messa (bass, guitar, vocals), the Subdudes’ latest offering, the 2-DVD set and companion 2-CD package entitled Live at the Rams Head is the one fans have been requesting for years.

The Subdudes thrive musically and socially in the live stage medium. Listeners can hear evidence of this fact all over Live at the Rams Head. The stage banter is relaxed and good-natured. Many of the songs are given an extended treatment and, in some cases, improve upon their already high-caliber studio counterparts. Key tracks include "Light in Your Eyes," "Street Symphony," and "Half of the Story." The accordion accentuates the nuanced gospel-tinged harmonies of great Subdudes songs like "Why Can’t I Forget About You." The 2nd DVD features bonus interviews with each band member and a brilliant acoustic set from a recent gig at Pleasant Plains.

The nicely-packaged set, released on Biographica Films and Recordings, is already garnering "grammy-buzz". At the very least, Live at the Ramshead serves as a document of a great band still in prime form after twenty-odd years, maintaining the urgency and vibrancy of their early years as a struggling band.

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