Tell Your Friends has a very prescient title, as a bunch of musicians in their mid-20s decided to do something wild – cut a live studio album, with no overdubs, with a small live audience and film crew in attendance. Sound like a plan? Then the band, with Michael League as its leader decided to put all tracks up on YouTube to build buzz and a worldwide phenomenon was launched. It was the beginning of everyone telling their friends about this great band, Snarky Puppy, and led them to make five more albums in this fashion. You can view the full back story (and order the album) by clicking on the link below.
Tell Your Friends is an outstanding album and one that will go down in history as a landmark. Each tune is a gem — there is not one that I would ever skip — and I encourage listening to the album in its entirety. This year is the tenth anniversary of its release and its timelessness is borne out by the fact four of the eight tracks are often played live. As the band resumes touring and they typically revive older tracks, I’m hoping to hear some of the hidden gems here played live too. This is one of my all time favorites amped up with the remix and remastering and will bring hours of listening delight.
Check out the back story of Tell Your Friends and order your copy here! Available in multiple formats including limited edition red and white vinyl
Whitecap‘s been one of my favorite live songs for a very long time. I can’t quite explain that feeling when Bob Lanzetti (or whoever’s in the lineup) starts with that slide guitar intro — it’s like anticipating that ride up the first hill on a roller coaster. In this video, I love how Rober “Sput” Searight puts his finger up to his mouth – “be quiet!” Whitecap’s signature to me is the super crisp horn line that rides on top pretty much throughout. Justin Stanton is really punching out the keys early and it’s great to see young Zach Brock and the full string section accompaniment. Seriously, what other group or 20 somethings (or any age) enters the studio with this many musicians including four or five keyboards and a string section? An interesting sidebar is that Michael League is on bass keys this whole tune. The bridge builds a high level of anticipation for the return of the full ensembler. Nate Werth hits his signature cymbal slap and we’re ready to launch. Shaun Marin leaps in with a stellar funk Moog solo and then drops down to some Hammond gospel sound strokes. Ian Rapien takes a sweet tenor solo before the group returns to the main melody for a powerful close.
Flood starts with Bill Laurance playing that iconic opening and one of Snarky Puppy’s best bass lines. The horn line is iconic. When Sput hammers back in to the head, it’s so joyful to to watch. Shaun sprinkles in a little Hammond B3. Chris McQueen comes in with the classic acoustic/electric guitar work and the strings and horns add a very lush background. It’s fun to watch Ian Rapien and Chris Bullock share one mic for their tenors and shows how tight they are. Justin Stanton comes in with another classic electronic keys solo. The mid tune horn and string slowdown builds as the waves wash over you. Then Sput is flailing furiously pounding the heck out his solo before it’s just Lanzetti, Sput and Nate in a whirlwind ending (or so it seems). After a short break the band picks right up where they left off for a resounding ending.
The Good Man Deliver and the Best is Blessed has long been one of my favorite tunes that I’ve been wanting to see live. It’s got such a great overall vibe. It starts with a low and mid range keys sequence with an introductory string arrangement. The build throughout this song is tremendous. The western flair slide guitar from the Lanzetti, McQueen, Lettieri trio is phenomenal. Bill Laurance, who penned this tune takes a brief interlude with string support. Lettieri takes on e of the most rocking guitar solos you’ll hear in a Snarky tune — it’s almost metal. McQueen picks up right where he leaves off and the horns push in. Naturally, Bill takes a solo in the last third and his synchronicity with Nate and Sput in particular propels the end of the tune until the final slower close out mirroring the opening.
Skate U is a beautiful Mike ‘Maz’ Maher tune that starts with a slow rolling guitar-keys duo that rolls forward with such a smooth groove that really shows the magic of the band. You can listen to this tune many times over and hear different layers throughout. Again, the horn line appears as the primary voice of the tune. Michael League has a great bass solo midway and it’s fun to see everyone bopping with him. Shaun slides in with him on B3 and we’re cruising. Justin turns around to check out Shaun’s skills in amazement.
Slow Demon is another tune that hasn’t been played live for a while and many fans are calling out for. It starts with some keys and drum lines but the video is so fun as Sput and Nate start with some robotic movements playing in the intro. Jay Jennings and Mike “Maz” Maher on trumpets lead the main intro along with the sax duo. Michael plays the Korg low end with a lot of fuzz. Ian takes the first sax solo but Chris rolls in and they start trading back and forth. Zach Brock takes his first album solo and he shreds showing how well violin fits into the fusion spectrum. Shaun takes us to church with some rolling B3 when Lettieri comes in with a climactic solo for the band to ride in on and then Mark continues his shredding (with a Guns and Roses shirt on). The tune has a fantastic wall of sound ending and Sput looks like a machine before Shaun calms us down.
Ready Wednesday is another classic Bill Laurance tune that remains in heavy live rotation and is always a show stopper noted for its poignant beginning and ending and its power in the midsection. It’s vibe overall sounds like some bustling urban lifestyle where we’re all rushing along to get somewhere. It starts with a beautiful singular trill, and piano intro by Bill Laurance and is such a kick when the band enters in unison. The horns are pulsing out at a hectic pace giving pause only for Bill to accentuate. The strings have a gorgeous soothing sound and are very prominent in this remixed version. Justin Stanton’s keys solo has such a analog sound, it’s drawn right outta the ’70s. The break with piano and strings is such an incredible section and it builds with some super percussion by Sput and Nate and then Bill comes back with a terrific highlighted solo handing off to Shaun for another fingers dancing solo. This is probably my favorite Shaun solo on the album which yields back to Bill and the string section. As usual with the live performances, Bill takes the last minute plus for a very emotive close.
Anomymous is one of two “bonus” tracks including in this special reissue and it was penned by Bob Lanzetti. Since it’s rarely if every been played live, its a hidden gem reinvigorated. Naturally it starts with Bob building a slow intro that pauses before the band comes crashing in. The tune is so polyphonic when the full band is rolling and Bob carries a good portion of the core melody. Michael takes a keys solo about midway through with Bob following up with strong electric solo. As usual, Sput looks like he’s having the best time and I just watch and listen to him with amazement. The horns are downplayed a little on this tune but are essential for the main melody up to the ending fadeout.
The Little People is the second bonus and it’s the only Sput tune on the album. It starts with a nice Bob solo with sustained keys in the background. Then Jay Jennings takes his first and very beautiful solo on flugelhorn. The tune also features Chris Bullock on flute. Maz joins in shortly with muted trumpet and then Sput, Justin, lay down the undercurrent while the four-piece horn section rides prominently on top. Chris B blasts in with a very powerful tenor solo. The horns come back with the clear main theme and then Jay takes another flugelhorn section. This is definitely a horn section highlight tune.
Michael League: electric bass, keybass
Bill Laurance: piano, keyboards
Shaun Martin: Moog, Hammond B3 organ
Justin Stanton: Fender Rhodes, keyboards
Mark Lettieri: electric guitar
Bob Lanzetti: electric guitar
Chris McQueen: electric guitar
Nate Werth: percussion
Robert ‘Sput’ Searight: drums
Jay Jennings: trumpet, flugelhorn
Mike ‘Maz’ Maher: trumpet
Ian Rapien: tenor saxophone
Chris Bullock: tenor saxophone
Zach Brock: violin
Eylem Basaldi – viola
Shawna Hamilton – cello
TaRon Lockett – drums (on “Whitecap” and “The Good Man Deliver and The Best is Blessed”)
Roni Gan – violin (on “Slow Demon”)