What happens when five of the very best musicians in the world — among them they have backed up everyone from James Taylor, Linda Ronstadt, Carole King, Stevie Nicks, and Jackson Browne, among many others — get together in the studio? They have fun, they get to stretch out on their own original compositions, and they produce a rocking album that charges off from the first note and never stops rolling, even after the final note.
The Immediate Family consists of legendary studio musicians Danny Kortchmar on guitar and vocals, Waddy Wachtel on guitar and vocals, Leland Sklar on bass, Russ Kunkel on drums —collectively known as “The Section” — with the addition of prominent touring, session guitarist, and songwriter Steve Postell on guitar and vocals.
A slithering lead guitar note uncoils into a biting “Fair Warning,” a towering rocker filled with the menacing prowl of Kortchmar’s, Wachtel’s, and Postell’s guitars. The tongue-in-cheek “Things to Do in Denver When You’re Dead” takes a bright jaunt on a Warren Zevon-like vibe, while “Divorced” funks its way through scenes of being “divorced / livin’ in the valley / you couldn’t keep love alive.” On this song you can almost hear Joe Walsh and Don Henley talking about their “dirty laundry” in “Hotel California.”
The bright and jangly Tejano-inflected “A Thing of the Past” belies the singer’s wistfulness in looking back on a time now long gone, never to be relived (or to be relived only in his mind). The opening song, “Can’t Stop Progress,” marches out of the gate on guitar riffs that drive on the straight-ahead rhythms of Kunkel and Sklar, and the album closes like any great rock album should by cranking up the amps on “Turn It Up to Ten.”
The Immediate Family features two bonus tracks of live performances: the Kortchmar/Browne collaboration “Somebody’s Baby” and a cover of Warren Zevon’s “Johnny Strikes Up the Band.”
The Immediate Family gives us a chance to hear these guys at their unbridled best, following their musical intuitions where they lead and playing so tightly that no note is wasted and every song is a little rock-and-roll masterpiece.