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Alabama State Troupers: Alabama State Troupers Road Show

Album Notes

Don Nix had deep Southern soul and blues roots, getting his start playing with Steve Cropper and Donald Duck Dunn in the Mar-Keys. These roots aren't as evident on his 1972 project Alabama State Troupers as his association with Leon Russell, whose pioneering work can be heard all over Road Show, the double-LP that captures the wild revue Nix took across America in 1972. Cut firmly from the same cloth that Russell provided for Joe Cocker's Mad Dogs & Englishmen revue, along with the similar Delaney & Bonnie band, the Alabama State Troupers is a careening rock & roll outfit that touches upon soul, country, gospel, and, in its occasional frontman Furry Lewis, blues. Lewis stepped into an absence left by Lonnie Mack, a superficially more suitable match for Nix, co-vocalist Jeanie Greene, and the Mt. Zion Band & Choir, but Lewis gives this an unexpected sense of community and heritage, emphasizing how the Alabama State Troupers stretch back far. That said, Road Show is very much an album of its time. Specifically, it is part of the Leon Russell axis, sounding like a kissing cousin to Delaney & Bonnie due to Nix's traded vocals with Greene, but its attitude is slightly closer to Mad Dogs & Englishmen, often feeling so overstuffed that it is about to burst. Nix isn't a vocalist of Cocker's stature, nor is Greene close to Bonnie Bramlett, which makes the wildcard of Lewis all the more compelling; he gives them gravity but also a bit of mischief. Nevertheless, the star in Alabama State Troupers isn't who is on the mike but rather the group itself, a collective that plays the kind of rambling, raucous American music that was briefly in vogue in the early '70s. Few have picked up this thread since, but that may be why it still sounds vital: it's teeming with passion, conviction and ideas that are still potent years after the music has receded into history. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine



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