The Lee Boys: Say Yes!

By Kerry Heffernan

The Lee Boys is a gospel singing, word-of-the-lord preaching, six-member powerhouse. Comprised of Alvin Lee (guitar and midi-guitar), Keith Lee (vocals), Derrick Lee (vocals), Emanuel Roosevelt Collier (pedal-steel guitar), Alvin Cordy, Jr. (electric bass) and Kenneth Earl Walker, II (drums), the Lee Boys' sound is one that is deeply infused with sanctimonious "sacred steel," provided by Collier's fancy pedal-steel guitar work. Trust me when I say the Boys' CD, Say Yes!, is more divine intervention than gospel music. From the chords of the first joyous tune, "Say Yes!," to the final notes of "Lee Boys Praise Jam," you almost feel like you are in a small, single-room church in the middle of summer. I almost went to get a magazine to fan myself.

All of the pieces of a praise-worthy puzzle are put in place on this album. There are voices soaring to the heavens, lyrics of thanks and worship, strong beats, and call-and-repeat verses. "Come on Help Me Lift Him Up" is one of the truly stand-up-and shout songs that one imagines taking place in a house of worship - think the church scene in The Blues Brothers. But The Lee Boys are much more than just a heavenly body of sound; they are true musicians. Tradition is the name of their musical game, taking their influences from gospel music gurus Alvin and Glenn Lee, but the tradition is emblazoned with fresh, current takes on the time-honored ways of playing. There are hints of R&B, hip-hop, and even a little funk thrown in for good measure throughout this entire collection. With its willowy guitar and easy drum line, the instrumental "Call Him By His Name" is distinctively bluesy, and the eccentric "If You're Happy and You Know It" has enough dissonance and jumbled instrumentals to strongly mimic a six-piece jazz number. But just when you think that the old ways are out and the new is what's really in, the Lee Boys bring in a resoundingly classical rendition of "Amazing Grace."

There is passion and conviction in this music. Even if you are not religiously inclined, there are so many fantastic musical elements to this group's melody that you won’t even care. If you're into Robert Randolph and the Family Band , chances are you'll be into this too. So give it shot, and let the glory of the lord shine upon you... in the form of some kick ass soulful grooves.

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[Published on: 6/11/06]

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Melian Tue 6/20/2006 06:07PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

I'm certainly not "religious inclined" - heck, I'm an aestheist from a Jewish family -- and I can tell you the Lee Boys will rock your socks off! They did that to me at Wanee this past spring. They are solid musicians, and there seemed to be less preaching about the Lord, than the importance of loving others, being happy and finding the joy in music.

I just saw Roosevelt Collier with the North Mississippi All Stars, and Velt was great. He fit right in. Rumor is both bands will tour together this fall. And that would be one amazing bill!

gifthorse76 starstarstarstarstar Thu 6/22/2006 09:13PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

I am religiously inclined and I agree, that the Lee Boys get the job done anyway you slice it. I saw them open for O’teil and the Peacemakers: in a word Fantabulitious.

travpf Fri 7/7/2006 12:43PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

I saw The Lee Boys at Wanee Fest this past spring with a couple guys from North Miss Allstars joining it at one point and it was truly a great set. I had not seen The Lee Boys before and they certainly performed a spectacular set for the first thing on a ealry Saturday morning/afternoon after a night of jamming to Gov't Mule and Allman Bros.

Make sure you catch them if they come to your area.

I am not a religious person by any means and I did not find them to be one bit "preachy". So don't be alarmed at all if you hear the word gospel thrown in to describe them. I thought it was very uplifting and generally just passing on a message to enjoy life and what it has to offer while hearing some excellent musicians have their way with the instruments.