Soul Slide

By Lady K.
June 2016

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Lounge Side Records, 2016

Jeff Plankenhorn, also known as “The Plank” is out of Austin, Texas. In addition to his vocal abilities and his guitar expertise, he has invented a stand-up lap steel guitar, also known as “The Plank”, which will be going into mass production soon.

The band on Soul Slide is: Plankenhorn (lead and background vocals, ‘The Plank’ slide guitar, electric, acoustic, baritone and square-neck resonator guitars, Wurlitzer); Yoggie (bass); Brannen Temple (drums); and Dave Scher (guitar, keyboards). The CD also includes a long list of guest players and vocalists: Miles Zuniga (guitars, piano, background vocals); John Chipman (drums); Rami Jaffe (keyboards); Peter Adams (keyboards), Tim Pierce (guitars); Ross Hogarth (percussion); Josh Steube, Clark Hamilton (soul claps); Scrappy Jud Newcomb (guitars), Bruce Hughes (bass, background vocals); John Chipman (drums), and, last but not least: Ruthie Foster and Malford Milligan (both providing lead and background vocals).

Plankenhorn’s blend of blues, soul and rock includes lots of original tunes, and some covers, such as a duet (The Plank and Malford Milligan) that offers listeners a terrific version of Sam and Dave’s hit tune, “You Got Me Hummin’” (Isaac Hayes, David Porter). Additional covers include: “Vagabond Moonlight” (Miles Zuniga); “Mockingbird Blues” (Willis Alan Ramsey); “Headstrong” (Ryan Krebs); and “Waking in the Sun” (Jeff Barry).

Twang Alert: Plankenhorn is out of Texas, so I guess it should be expected that there’d be some twangy guitar on a track or two (but it’s minimal.) Lady K decided to ignore it, and that worked out just fine.

Among Plankenhorn’s original tunes is the up-tempo “Lose My Mind”, which is one of Lady K’s favorites because it includes insane screaming guitars. He wants to lose his mind, in a good way: ‘I want to talk to the flowers / sing to the trees / What I’m lookin’ to find – I want to lose my mind.” “Trouble Find Me” is one of those tracks mentioned above – it has some twang.

Ruthie Foster gets to absolutely soul-shine (along with multiple great, crazy guitars) in “Like Flowers.” It’s an up-tempo number about learning life’s lessons and coming to love your fellow man because in the end you meet “St. Peter at the Pearly Gates / He say what have you learned at last? / (she says) all the people look like flowers at last.” Now that’s something to look forward to – and Ruthie will make you want to see it (it would be nice if the people/flower thing could happen before we get to the Pearly Gates.)

It’s time to get up and boogie, when you hear track 5. “Dirty Floor” is up-tempo and it has Ruthie backing up Plankenhorn, who also wants to get up and boogie: “I know there’s more to you than this act you’re putting on / Glide right through the door and go dancin’ on the dirty floor / Get down on the dirty floor.”

Then there’s an attention-grabbing track called “Kansas City Nocturne.” It’s an instrumental with ‘just’ steel and piano doing some crazy wonderful things together. It’s only a minute and a half long, but I promise you, you’ll miss it when it ends, and you’ll be hitting ‘replay’.

“Born to Win” is an up-tempo morale booster (basically suggesting that he get his shit together or else): “Your fair-weather friends have all disappeared / everybody says that you born to win / but you won’t if you don’t even try.”

Give Soul Slide a listen (or five.) It’s chock full of bluesy-soul (or soulful-blues, depending on the track) and you get to listen to The Plank, playing The Plank -which is just kinda fun to say.

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