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The Muse: The Beginnings of Redbone – A Fun Listen For Fans

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Wikimedia via Creative Commons License

The Muse is a creative publication that aims to share the interests, talents, and research of students on campus. The following represents the opinion of the student writer and does not represent the views of Loyola University Maryland, the Greyhound, or Loyola University’s Department of Communication.

Redbone thrived throughout the ‘70s, releasing quite a few funk rock hits, balancing explorations of both love and politics in their lyrics. While they would never achieve the massive mainstream success others who inspired and played with them would (their name came from a suggestion of their good friend, legendary guitarist Jimi Hendrix), their music lives on in the hearts of many. They would receive a post-mortem surge of popularity following the release of “Guardians of the Galaxy” in 2014, which prominently featured their biggest hit “Come and Get Your Love” in its opening sequence. Before the glory days of Redbone though, Pat and Lolly Vegas, the band’s founding brothers, formed several other groups before settling into the rhythm of Redbone. 

The Vegas Brothers kicked around the Las Vegas strip throughout the ‘60s, finding some success and taking whatever gigs they could get. They would become the leads of the then-popular music TV program “Shindig”’s house band, open for the Beach Boys and Lenny Bruce, and even provide much of the music for the Elvis film “Kissin Cousins.” In 1966, the brothers’ years of work would build up to the release of their first LP: “At The Haunted House,” named after the Haunted House venue where they would often play shows. 

Inspired by the surf rock and sunshine pop scenes in which they grew up, this introductory release would harken back to the sounds of the Beach Boys, featuring sunshiney and energetic bops to get down to. “In The Midnight Hour” kicks off the album with rolling drums and jaunty guitars as the brothers jump in serenading their lover, detailing all the kindness and romance she’ll receive as the sun sets and the moon rises. A romantic and bouncy tune, this song sets the tone for the rest of the record where Pat and Lolly continue to sing of love unrequited, painful, or sweet. “Let’s Get It On” is another highlight with softer, raunchier vocals balanced on top of a jaunty piano that just makes you want to get up and dance. An unexpected but welcome moment came in the group’s cover of the Rolling Stones’ “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,” which remains a fun little bop but without the same energy or rugged charm that the Stones pull off. This track is mostly just a fun line to draw between bands that previously would have seemed to have little connection. Finally, towards the end of the record is “Any Old Time,” the band’s most popular and enduring song and most definitely their best. Catchy and saccharine sweet, here the brothers sing of a more intimate and trusting love, letting the person in their life know that they will always be available to support them. 

However, while “At the Haunted House” is pleasant to listen to, one can definitely hear that this project comes from future stars who have yet to completely fall into their groove. The songs collectively lack a distinct tone, and several conclude before feeling like they’ve fully realized themselves, leaving this record feeling more like a collection of good ideas than a complete album. The performances of Pat and Lolly Vegas are smooth and energizing, but, as exemplified by their Rolling Stones’ cover, their sound lacks distinction from the music of their more popular contemporaries such as the Monkees and the aforementioned Beach Boys who put together a more compelling performance. This album is a worthwhile listen, but it is more so as a historical piece of an earlier and forgotten form of what would soon become Redbone just over half a decade later. This is a record for fans of Rebone primarily but could certainly be appreciated by any lover of ‘60s pop as well. If either of those things sound like you, give this one a listen for sure.

 

Personal Rating: 6/10

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