This self-titled debut album by Full Grown Band – one of Missoula’s longest-running groups – is a knockout. The seven-piece, which grew out of an earlier incarnation as Full Grown Men, has all you’d want in an R&B band – great vocals, horns, kickin’ bass and percussion, and inventive songwriting. Not to mention fine guitar chops.
Lost Highway Band alums Paul Kelley, bass, who replaced the late Rick Waldorf a few years back, and Phil Hamilton, saxophone, join Moonlighters’ guitarist Peter Walther, well-known singer Deb Demmons, in-demand drummer Roger Moquin, keys player Bob Athearn, and trumpeter Jordan Demander to create terrific dance music. Everyone sings except Hamilton and Demander.
Two songs are covers: King Floyd’s “Groove Me,” wherein Demmons growls her way through the lyrics; and Hambridge and Moore’s soulful “Move,” with its sax/trumpet interplay and hip-shakin’ beat.
Kelley duets with Demmons on his “Voodoo Mud.” “Just one taste of his poison knocked the Holy Roller out of me,” Demmons sings; Walther adds some bluesy licks. Demmons’ mature voice oozes soul.
The wacky state of things on Hamilton’s rock-steady “Twilight Zone” finds the piano playing the identifiable melody. Rightly, Walther uses all his guitar effects – distortion pedal, digital delay, tremolo pedal and reverb device – to create atmosphere. The sax wails while bass and drums rock the bottom, the trumpet files in, and the tempo decelerates with sax squeaks at the end. Fine!
Walther wrote the rest of the songs, and not one of them sounds the same, quite a feat. He sings with the gang on the jazzy finger-snapper “Mama Sed,” with its bluesy Atlanta Rhythm Section nuances, and “Somebody’s Cryin,’” a gospel song. It’s got a bit of a N’Awlins’ feel with the horns and harmony.
The Full Grown Band dedicates the album to the memory of Rick Waldorf. And it’s an apt tribute: you’ll get off your butt and dance when you hear these folks!
– Mariss McTucker