Review by Bokonon
In 1989, ownership of the subdudes’ self-titled debut album was the equivalent of a passkey to a secret after-hours club where real New Orleans funk met serious New York songcraft. It was a record you could dance to, and think about.
An early local date for the band, at QE2, was so hot, so grooving and so deep that the late night snow, heavy duty parking tickets and tow jobs didn’t seem so bad.
In 1996, though, that line-up, hungry for a wider success that never came, exploded, with key songwriter and bassist Johnny Ray Allen leaving the band, which re-grouped in 2002 as the ‘dudes before once again filling out the original moniker with an expanded roster of players.
Now, Allen is back on board, and the true ‘dudes (a quartet once more) hit Albany again on Sunday, with a tour stop at The Egg. Guitarslinger Tommy Malone and the rest of the band could not resist an endless string of bad jokes pointed at the venue’s name; thankfully the music was better than the patter.
The group has a truly unique sound, drawing equally on soul music and that aforementioned Louisiana strut. But Allen’s bass doesn’t lock in with a kick drum. Rather, percussionist extraordinaire Steve Amedee bases his grooves on a well-worn tambourine. Malone and keyboardist John Magnie float over the top, with all adding delicious trademark holy-mother-of-god harmonies.
Sunday’s trip was a mix of old and new, with perhaps fewer “hits” than the nostalgic might have pined for. But still, the songbag was righteous. “Straight Shot” was wicked. “It’s So Hard,” fueled by Magnie, was furious. And “Late at Night” was just a flat-out celebration.
One does wonder if old tensions still exist, as Allen seemed aloof and the rest of the band didn’t seem to mind. But his presence did portend the inclusion of early classic tunes like “Run Little One and “Got You On His Mind.” Allen, let’s remember, wrote or co-wrote eight of the 11 tunes on the debut, and had a hand in arranging and producing the first three records as well.
Ultimately, Sunday’s show didn’t have quite the crackle of the past, but it was a blissful reminder of the simple power of good songs, good beats and good chops.
Greg Haymes’ review at The Times Union
THE SUBDUDES SET LIST
Angel to Be
Run Little One
It’s So Hard
Why Can’t I Forget About You
He’s Got You On His Mind
Carved in Stone
Sarita (with Tim Cook)
Sugar Pie (with Tim Cook)
Late at Night
All the Time in the World
Have You Seen Her (the Chi-Lites)
Light in Your Eyes