A little while back, we told you about the Ruf Records debut of Danish bluesman Thorbjorn Risager and his band The Black Tornado, a doozy of an album called Too Many Roads. If you didn’t get a chance to read that earlier review, we encourage you to take a few minutes to go ahead and do so now (we’ll still be here when you get back)… Then imagine most of the songs off that great album receiving a live treatment, adding in a bunch of fine blues classics and other originals along the way, and what you have is another terrific recording for both Risager’s outfit and Ruf’s often-impressive Songs from the Road series, which has previously spotlighted such other artists as Luther Allison, Royal Southern Brotherhood, Joanne Shaw Taylor, Oli Brown, Jeff Healey, Canned Heat, Coco Montoya, Mike Zito, Dana Fuchs, Savoy Brown, and the Spin Doctors.
In addition to superb live versions of songs like “If You Wanna Leave”, “Paradise”, “Drowning”, “High Rolling”, “Through the Tears”, and of course the title track off Too Many Roads – all made even better (if you can believe it) by more pronounced and dynamic instrumentation and backing vocals than allowed by the studio recordings – Songs from the Road also offers blazing takes on the classics “Baby Please Don’t Go” and an 11-minute, audience participation-filled “Let the Good Times Roll”. Those tracks alone make this set well worth its cost, but the band also throws in a handful of songs from their earlier projects, among them, the hard-driving “Rock ‘N’ Roll Ride”, which you can’t help but to like with its chorus of (if we’re understanding Risager’s Copenhagen accent right) “I wanna’ rock, I wanna’ roll, I wanna’ ride/ I wanna’ swing these rhythm & blues into the night”; a creeping “On My Way”; the rocking “All I Want”; and the groovy, horn-laced closer “Opener”, as well as a slow, tender duet with backing singer Lisa Lystam in the stripped-down “I Won’t Let You Down”, while the accompanying DVD adds even a few more in the boogeying “Straight and Narrow Line”, the powerful, swinging “I’m Tired”, and a funky “Get Up, Get Higher”.
As with the earlier videos in this series, there’s nothing too fancy or elaborate about the camera work, but it does help capture the band’s show in an intimate, no-frills but professional manner, giving folks like us in the States a much-appreciated opportunity to see the band in action long before we’ll probably ever have the chance to catch them live. In the meantime, this is one we’ll be watching and listening to quite a bit.