Ed Volker - keyboards, lead vocals; Dave Malone - guitar, vocals; Camile Baudoin - guitar; Reggie Scanlan - bass; Frank Bua - drums; Glenn Sears - percussion, vocals
This show by the Radiators was captured for the King Biscuit Flower Hour at the Ritz in New York City on March 14th, 1988. The recording finds the New Orleans rock veterans at their best, as they rip through an upbeat, energetic 19-song set. The show demonstrates their ability to transcend many different genres (blues, rock, country) and create their own, affectionately dubbed "Swamp Rock." The group, who built its reputation almost solely on their incredible live shows, plays songs that are both catchy and free-flowing.
After a short introduction, the quintet bursts into the guitar-driven "Spark Plug." Immediately we are introduced to the warm, soulful sound of vocalist Ed Volker. Like so many aspects of their sound, Volker's exudes New Orleans soul, as he doesn't try to hide his thick Louisiana drawl. From there, they go straight into "Honey From the Bee," which features impressive lead work from guitarists Camile Baudoin and Dave Malone. Throughout the show, the axmen share lead and rhythm duties seamlessly, often going lick-for-lick, as they do on the aforementioned tune. Guitar enthusiasts must hear the bombastic solo midway through "This Wagon's Gonna Roll," which is bluesy, pentatonic brilliance.
While Volker and the guitar duo stand out throughout the show, the tightness of the Radiators' rhythm section truly allows the trio to express themselves. Bassist Reggie Scanlan's graceful finger work and deep pocket made him a local legend, and though Scanlan is content to stay in the background of their live shows, attentive listeners will hear the laid-back New Orleanian's significant contribution. His comrade Frank Bua is rock-steady even during the group's most freewheeling jam sessions, like the 14-plus minute "Hard Core." So much of what makes the Radiators great is apparent in this recording. Throughout their 30-plus year career, they have built the reputation of being one of the best live bands in the country, and this recording should tell you all you need to know about why that is.
The Radiators, who are also known as the New Orleans Radiators, formed in 1978 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The core lineup of Volker, Malone, Baudoin, Scanlan, and Bua has stayed the same since the group's inception. In the early '80s, the group enlisted the services of percussionist/back-up singer Glenn Sears, who left the band in the early '90s. Volker does most of the songwriting, but the entire group helps arrange the songs and bring them to life. Though they have a large catalog of originals, they also are known for their cover songs, mostly of famous New Orleans artists like Dr. John and Fats Domino, though they are also known to cover songs by blues (Howling' Wolf, Lightnin' Hopkins, etc.) and rock (Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, etc.) artists.
They quickly gained local notoriety for their energetic live shows that encouraged crowd participation. They became known as one of the best bar bands in New Orleans, and as they gained more fans, they never lost the ethos of their early career. Though they have released studio albums, their first being 1980's Work Done on Premises, they will always be a live band at their core, evidenced by the fact that they allow their fans to freely record and release their shows for free consumption. Many of their best-known originals never made it to records, instead gaining popularity from bootlegs.
After over 33 years together, The Radiators finally called it quits in June 2011, with a three-night run of shows at the legendary Tipitina's in New Orleans. Recordings from those shows were released on the album, The Last Watusi.
The Radiators Official Site