In the mid-1970s, after the glam rock scene had died down and before the punk rock explosion would hit, England was filled with working-class bands extolling the virtues of American R&B, country and blues. Road Runner brings to mind the best elements of that small-scale era, a time ruled by good taste in material, strong instrumental chops, and a passionate love for different styles of music.
Albert Lee has been one of the busiest and most readily identifiable session guitarists in the world for four decades. In the ’70s and early ’80s alone, he played with Joe Cocker, Emmylou Harris, Eric Clapton and the Everly Brothers, to name a few. When he’s taken the time to release records under his own name, he’s occasionally veered into instrumental near-jazz fusion. Road Runner is much more in the vein of his best song-oriented work.
Lee picks material from the likes of Junior Walker, John Hiatt, Leo Kottke and Richard Thompson, playing his usual stunning lead guitar, but also adding his first instrument, piano, to the mix. His accompanists include Bob Glaub on bass, Don Heffington on drums, and the impeccable Buddy Emmons on steel guitar.
Lee’s vocals may not match the talents of his band, but they are stronger than they’ve been in the past. Road Runner won’t change anybody’s lives, but it will make living a little more pleasurable.