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The Word


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The Word
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Audio CD, July 31, 2001
$29.95 $6.99
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Editorial Reviews

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Sweet surrender's always been the subtext of gospel music, but the velvet punch of this superstar jam band will knock out secular audiences as well. The Word features John Medeski of Medeski, Martin and Wood and youngblood trio the North Mississippi Allstars, but its star is Robert Randolph, a 23-year-old from New Jersey who is the new god of pedal-steel guitar. Randolph earned his chops in the Pentecostal church, performing the so-called "Sacred Steel" music well documented by the Arhoolie label (see Sacred Steel, Vol. 2 for a sample). He plays like an amalgamation of Duane Allman, Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck, John Coltrane, Buddy Emmons, Bo Diddley, and Mahalia Jackson. In short, he's brilliant, so full of rock & roll energy, improvisational fire, and sonic acrobatics that the other great musicians on this disc mostly stay out of his way. Randolph has a seemingly divine gift for on-the-fly harmony as he splits the difference between Sunday tent meetings and Saturday juke crawls on "Keep Your Lamp Trimmed & Burning." In the Allman Brothers-style jams, Randolph plays both Dickey Betts and Duane to Medeski's organ, handling sweet, clean scales and rich, mellow slide slurs. But his vocabulary extends well beyond American-roots music. "Blood on That Rock" ends in a free-improv meltdown, and elsewhere his snaky lines sound like Middle Eastern holy singing. All of which makes The Word worth heeding. --Ted Drozdowski

1. Joyful Sounds
2. Call Him By His Name
3. Blood On That Rock
4. Without God
5. Waiting On My Wings
6. At The Cross
7. I'll Fly Away
8. I Shall Not Be Moved
9. Keep Your Lamp Trimmed & Burning
10. Untitled
11. Joyful Sounds Reprise

Product Details

  • Audio CD (July 31, 2001)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Rope a Dope
  • ASIN: B00005M98F
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #17,010 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Patrick Earley on August 13, 2001
Format: Audio CD
The WORD is an all instrumental cd of some of the most inspirational gospel music these ears have ever heard. The band was put together by Luther Dickinson of the good young blues band the North Mississippi Allstars, and John Medeski from the cutting edge jazz group Medeski, Martin, and Wood. These two also recruited the services of pedal steel guitar player elite Robert Randolph. When I first listened to this cd, I thought it was Luther Dickinson who was doing the primary guitar leads here. But I recently saw this band play on a late night television show, and as it turned out, all these great guitar sounds were coming from the pedal steel guitar of Randolph. This kid is incredible! What a find this guy was. In reading the liner notes to this album, it sounded like it was divine intervention how Randolph's and Luther Dickinson's paths even crossed. This guy had never even performed "live" outside his pentecostal church before joining up with this band. It's a great story in itself, and after hearing this cd, I can see where they think there might me a little extra something going on here. The first song off the album JOYFUL SOUNDS is a real grabber that, if it don't make ya wanna get up, clap your hands and dance, you might want to check yourself for a pulse. This is the same song I saw them perform on television. Randolph's playing here sounds much like the early Eat A Peach era Allman Brothers guitar sound. And it's that good too. Another standout track on this is WITHOUT GOD, which offers up some incredibly fast steel guitar playing, complimented by some very tasty Luther Dickinson guitar work. This tune is fantastic. It's 6:48 of pure gospel music that you wish would never end. Not to be overlooked in this mix is the keyboard work of John Medeski.Read more ›
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Morgen Selmer on August 28, 2001
Format: Audio CD
Both the name of the album and the name of the band, The Word is some of the most impressive instrumental blues I've ever heard. The brainchild of North Mississippi Allstars guitarist Luther Dickinson and keyboardist (read: unbelievble B3 chops) John Medeski (of Medeski, Martin & Wood fame), coupled with a hand-of-fate collaboration with the heretofore unknown pedal steel wizard Robert Randolph, this album is being billed as a Gospel record, but don't let the appellation fool you. Anyone raised in a church going family is likely to recognize a few of the tunes on the record, but their interpretation is like nothing you've ever heard. Nonetheless, the album is likely to move you. It is raw and it is beautiful; it is jubilant and it is soulful. It is blues that will make you shout for joy and it is instrumental music that will make your heart sing. Robert Randolph is already being hailed as the next-big thing in blues (an expectation he most likely resents) and his unbelievable pedal steel guitar work belies his 22 years. If you want something a little different, something that will reach down into your soul and pull out a feeling, pick up The Word and let yourself be moved.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Brooks Williams on August 2, 2001
Format: Audio CD
First, let me say that Robert Randolph is a monster. I've never heard pedal steel guitar played so well. The North Mississippi AllStars and John Medeski (of Medeski, Martin and Wood) team up with this amazing guitar player to create a great mixture of gospel and blues. Each musician is a master of their instrument and the songs are amazing.
I was a bit hesitant about John Medeski as I don't really like his other band (MMW) because they get a little too far out there and it sounds more like noise than music to me. I was surprised to hear Medeski playing great keyboards and never really offending my ears.
This album grooves and it screams. Hear The Word and be healed!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Bill/KC on August 7, 2001
Format: Audio CD
The first time I'd heard of this band was a few weeks ago. A friend who had seen them at The Birchmere in Virginia and another friend who is a rabid Robert Randolph fan, tipped me off. Their advice and having just recently seen the North Mississippi Allstars live for the first time, had me eagerly anticipating the release of the this CD. That anticipation of this all instrumental recording was well rewarded! The Allstars provide a rock-solid foundation for the fabulous pedal steel guitar work of Robert Randolph and the keyboards of John Medeski. Though I'm not a fan of Medeski, Martin and Wood, Medeski's playing in this context is outstanding. The group calls this a "gospel record" and indeed it is based on the bluesy, gospel style of music played in House of God churches. Robert Randolph learned his chops playing in the church, where the steel guitar is a featured instrument. There are several songs where Randolph and Luther Dickinson, of the Allstars, trade guitar licks that are reminiscent of the Allman Brothers in their heyday. Other songs have a Hawaiian slack-key guitar sound. This is a great CD and one that I highly recommend purchasing. I hear these guys are fantastic live, so if you have a chance to see them, do NOT pass it up!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 10, 2001
Format: Audio CD
Robert Randolph does the amazing with the Pedal Steel Guitar. First heard about him a year or two ago on NPR. More recently, NPR profiled THE WORD and I had to buy it. Absolutely FIRST RATE
cuts. Medeski et all have put together an album of instumental music that challenges the listener beyond their views of what Gospel is and what it can be and updates the use of the Pedal Steel Guitar far beyond the Tex Ritter and Dick Curless genre. Truely a "Joyful Noise"! (PS - I love Tex Ritter and Dick Curless too by the way...)
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