The Disreputable Few are a psychedelic blues, rock band with four notable band members, Randy Ray Mitchell/Guitar, Dan Potruch/Drums, Mark Tremalgia/Guitar-vocals and Paul Ill/Bass-vocals, who have played with everyone from Bob Weir to the members of The Rolling Stones. I was recently sent their album, “Ain't Who I Was” and gave it a listen. I was immediately impressed with the recording quality itself and the southern rock feel from the opening song.
‘Ain’t Who I Was’ the self-titled track from this album, is blues and rock heavy with a southern drawl. The Disreputable Few are Southern Rock all the way but without being cheesy or overdone. ‘Ain't Who I Was’ exemplifies the lyrical qualities that come with traditional blues and rock. The lyrics themselves are uplifting and transient, taking the listener on an evolution of the self.
‘California Calling’ reminds me of Little Feat mixed with ZZ Top but with a contemporary twist. This song could be a pop-oriented radio hit; it is less emotionally evocative than ‘Ain’t Who I Was’ but with a more fun and free vibe. Great slide guitar work and transitional solos within this song. Hard powered blues, rock for sure, with a hint of psychedelia.
‘Peace Pipe’ takes the album to the slower side; a storytelling song with Native American imagery and the Western-American lifestyle. “The peace pipe saved my life.” This song feels very Jam worthy and even improvisational, although it is a studio recording, I can still hear those qualities within, just waiting to be explored. I am sure The Disreputable Few could really tear down the house with this song, live. This track includes, possibly my favorite guitar solo on the album but the lyrics can get a bit redundant. In all honesty, this song could have gone on for five more minutes with more Jams and transitions. I wouldn't have minded at all. Great Allman Brothers like structure, flowering and evolving: emotional and raw.
‘Hang On’ keeps this album on the slower, melodic side of things with a modern take on songwriting and lyrics. The song is heavy yet, filled with beautiful guitar riffs that laden this track with the perfect juxtaposition between hard and soft. The vocals and harmonizing in this song are well done and recorded to the utmost professionalism. This track features another ripping guitar solo and it seems that every member of The Disreputable Few are talented beyond measure. They play as a cohesive unit, tight and together.
‘Wait For You’ begins with lots of reverb and 70-80s light rock-sounding riffs. Harmonies and vocals again, are well done but this song feels more Reggae or Calypso inspired than psychedelic. Perhaps this song could be taken to another level during a live performance. The feeling brought forth from this song is much different than the other songs on this album but it shows the diversity of the band and the music they can make.
I expected ‘Groundhog Day’ to be based loosely around the Bill Murray movie with the same name but I was pleasantly surprised by the funky clavi and standard Funk/Soul rhythm that this song produces. This song definitely makes you want to get up and dance. Again, this track is much different than the blues, rock throughout this album but opens up the door for a whole new level of genre integration.
‘Farmer Brian’ instantaneously reminds me of many Allman Brothers riffs but immediately expands into a darker, melodic statement, forgetting the opening riff altogether. This composition is much more arranged on a classical level; thoroughly thought out and practiced to perfection. I would have to say that this is my favorite track off the entire album with great breakdowns, jams and obviously skilled musicianship. I would recommend ‘Farmer Brian’ to any and all, Jam band fans out there today. ‘Farmer Brian’ can go from 0 to 60 in seconds, with amazing instrumental qualities and solos. This song is the definition of what Jam music can generate.
The album culminates with an acoustic rendition of ‘Ain’t Who I Was’, which adds a classic blues element and brings us full circle, back to the original album opener. While, I had never heard of The Disreputable Few, this album is a great example of bands that fly under the radar and are not as well known, as they should be. With this level of musicianship and talent, The Disreputable Few could gain followers and fans alike, if people like you and me, only give up the time to open up ours ears and listen. I am not sure this album best represents this bands live sound but I can still hear the psychedelic elements that this band can produce. If I ever have the chance to catch this band live, I wouldn’t hesitate to give them a shot. The Disreputable Few’s album “Ain’t What I Was” can be found on Spotify and their website http://www.disreputablefewmusic.com/
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Editor: Robert (R.A.) Fadley
Freelance Writer, Musicologist, Music Journalist, Music Critic, Music Writer, Author, Musician, Singer-songwriter, Composer, Guitarist.