By Martine Ehrenclou
The Immediate Family put their superb rock and roll spin on their new EP, Slippin’ and Slidin’, out October 16, 2020 via Quarto Valley Records. The Immediate Family is made up of legendary musicians Danny Kortchmar (guitar, vocals), Waddy Wachtel (guitar, vocals), Leland Sklar (bass), Russ Kunkel (drums) and Steve Postell (guitar, vocals.)
You just can’t get any better than this.
Composed of the most recorded, respected and sought-after players in modern music known as ‘The Section’, these famed musicians’ work can be heard on albums by Jackson Browne, James Taylor, Linda Ronstadt, Keith Richards, Warren Zevon, Stevie Nicks, Graham Nash, Neil Young, Phil Collins, David Crosby, and many more. Kortchmar, Sklar and Kunkel have worked together since the early 70’s and made up three quarters of ‘The Section’ with Waddy Wachtel joining in the mid 70s. Collectively these musicians helped define the sound of a generation.
The Immediate Family is the epitome of cool. They’ve played together for decades, their chemistry undeniable, their talents limitless. The term “supergroup” has been loosely bandied about for years, but it definitely applies here. There is true excellence not just in the musicianship on Slippin’ and Slidin’ but in the poetic songwriting as well.
Title track, “Slippin’ and Slidin’” kicks off the five-song collection with a thunderstorm of rock and roll. Acoustic slide guitar opens the track with Wachtel’s gritty vocals wrapped around stories of love, fear and frustration with trying to get traction in life. The acoustic slide lends a rootsy feel to this rollicking tune with dark undertones. Wachtel’s vocal adds just the right amount of edgy emotion to a song that is about more than you might think. Expert drumming, bass and guitars abound, including a ripping electric guitar solo. It’s a well-told story with meaning.
Changing things up a bit is “New York Minute,” a beautifully written slow rocker, with haunting and melodic guitar and evocative imagery about how fragile life can be. The song, written by Danny Kortchmar and Don Henley, is far removed from the Don Henley version. Sung by Postell, it begins with Harry, a Wallstreet guy who leaves home and the girl who loves him, to walk to the train station and end it all. There’s truth in the lyrics, “Men get lost sometimes as the years unfurl.” With the emotion in Postell’s voice, combined with the guitars, it took a few listens for the song to sink in, for the stories to unfold, for the theme of desperation and loneliness to hit me. Powerful stuff. Combined with harmonies and beautiful chord changes, this is a standout.
The thing about Slippin’ and Slidin by The Immediate Family, is of course the outstanding musicianship and the telepathy between the members. But it’s also about the songs. With lyrical depth, each one is like a short story, packed with visual imagery and insights. The stories told have subtle references to universal truths. You have to hand it to each of these musicians and how they interpret the songs together as a unit to convey emotion. Call that intuitiveness or decades of experience, I don’t know. But that’s part of the magic here.
There are more up-tempo rockers on the EP and those too scratch the surface, sometimes with a wink to the listener. “Top of the Rock” slices the mystique of those with too much money and power. You can hear what singer and songwriter Kortchmar is getting at by his delivery of the song.
Closing the EP, is standout “Cruel Twist,” a groove-based track sung with a bluesy flavor by Danny Kortchmar, over an expert drum shuffle, bass and rhythm guitar, all locked tight. Written by Kortchmar, it could be about any number of prominent, unscrupulous people in power who abuse it. The karmic twist is what you do comes back to you. Watch the video. It’s fun and you can’t miss Sklar playing standup bass.
Slippin’ and Slidin’ by The Immediate Family is so good, it’s not too soon to get it now and place it in your permanent collection. There will be more releases from this phenomenal band, I’m sure. Highly recommended.
Watch “Cruel Twist”
The Immediate Family Online