The album’s title, spoken by Reid, are the first sounds on the record, cautioning band and audience alike that the show is about to begin -- setting time into motion and then “Shot of Whiskey” is underway. The band comes storming from behind with the incessant thump of the big bass drum, brushes on the snare, trumpet and trombone evoking a time when horns reigned supreme and then, they drop away, leaving guitarists Reid and John Calvin Abney to toss a little harmonized spice into the air before the whole thing lurches back into the unstoppable groove.
The album’s high points never stop arriving. “When I was Young” features a lilting country blues melody, bobbing atop a sophisticated second-line New Orleans groove. “Pride and Swing” is a mournful dirge in the vein of “St. James Infirmary,” a diabolical minor blues with the dash of brimstone as dimly recalled through the haze of bootleg gin.
And then comes “Dancing,” a delicate dance for two guitars and one voice, Reid’s rich baritone dropping into unexplored registers as he croons out this lullaby.
The band retakes the stage with a fury, steering the listener through the Big Band, Western swing and Hot Jazz eras with “Eileen,” “Treat Me That Way” and “Minor Iko” before the magnum opus of the album, “A Minor Affair” is unleashed.
Opening with a Romani melody that recalls equal parts Spain and Eastern Europe, a sudden countermelody erupts in the brass, sending the whole piece forward to the cool jazz era of 1950s Los Angeles. Brandishing an almost Mancini-esque economy of melody, each instrument adds embellishments incrementally as the piece builds as the rhythm section demonstrates its complete mastery of the pulse at this almost lolling tempo. The solo section launches the whole piece into double time which only serves to reinforce the dirge-like proceedings as the head is reared once more to close the album.
The live format isn’t a compromise to avoid incurring the costs of more “sophisticated” recording techniques. It’s a document, capturing the power of musicians who share purpose and are listening to each other with the same fervor as their own performance. Weeks of pre-rehearsal result in takes that are confident in the eccentricities of the arrangement and carefully plotted structure. Every dynamic shift is purposeful, each solo section, an opportunity to add and subtract from the sinuous melodies that preceded it.
This is an album made by and for time travelers determined to recover and restore lost sounds to their original potency, spanning time to draw together threads of influence that only make sense looking backward from the present and knowing how the story ends.
And, in that sense, Alright, Here We Go... is a record for everyone blissfully trapped in the right here and the right now.