By Brian Aberback
Guitars, guitars and more guitars. Powerful triple harmonies. Intense soaring, scorching and passionate leads galore. You can almost feel the sweat dripping off the strings on southern and country rock legends the Outlaws’ new live double-album, “Legacy Live.”
It’s no wonder that the originally Tampa, Fla., based band earned the nickname the Florida Guitar Army in the 1970s. The Outlaws are simply stacked with six-string talent. “Legacy Live” is an electrifying performance spanning the band’s career, from 1975 debut album classics “Green Grass & High Tides,” “There Goes Another Love Song” and rave-ups “Waterhole” and “Knoxville Girl,” to their superb 1980 cover of “(Ghost) Riders in the Sky,” to the title track of their latest studio album, “It’s About Pride” (2012).
The disc’s highlights also include “Grey Ghost,” singer-guitarist Henry Paul’s solo band’s poignant tribute to fellow southern rockers Lynyrd Skynyrd that does the latter band proud. In fact, it was Skynyrd’s late frontman Ronnie Van Zant who championed the Outlaws to their first record deal.
The Outlaws were founded by singer-guitarist Hughie Thomasson, who died of a heart attack in 2007. Today the group is fronted by singer-guitarist/longtime member Henry Paul and also includes his fellow axemen Steve Grishman and Chris Anderson, veteran drummer Monte Yoho, bassist Randy Threet, and keyboardist Dave Robbins.
The Outlaws perform on April 20 at the Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank.
We recently spoke to Henry Paul.
What was the impetus behind doing a live album at this time?
I wanted to document the band as it exists today and shore up the band’s musical personality and legacy. We have a pretty damn good group from the standpoint of our generation. The Outlaws are one of the better groups still doing this. It’s still a real band and not just a walk down memory lane. And in the process give the fans something new and exciting. I love the organic sort of Americana personality that the Outlaws embody and still represent and our live show is a powerful presentation of that. Our shows are a hallmark of the band’s personality. We’re aggressive in our playing and the Outlaws’ musical personality was built around that. We get out there and get after it.
“Legacy Live” is a diverse offering. It’s not just your classics.
When the band’s first live album came out in 1978 (“Bring It Back Alive”) it was more of a young horse asserting itself from the standpoint of speed. This one is more of a retrospective. We do some songs that are more finesse pieces. Now we have an opportunity to put a broader musical personality on the table for the fans. You can get them to stand and shout or sit there in their chair and watch it and still go ‘wow.’ “Girl from Ohio” and “Cold Harbor” and “Prisoner” have a different place in the band’s musical history.
Your last studio album, “It’s About Pride,” was released in 2012. Are there plans for a new Outlaws disc?
I know our fans are wondering and waiting impatiently. We have studio time booked in April. God knows if we’ll make it but it’s important to get in the studio in the spring if we’re going to get something out in the fall. The problem is we’re always busy touring and this year has been incredibly busy. I’ve also been working on a [Paul’s other band] Blackhawk Christmas album and that’s been a really intense process. But I do want to do the Outlaws into the future and keep the level high, do a good job playing and singing.