Root Doctor | Change Our Ways

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Change Our Ways

by Root Doctor

Internationally acclaimed Soul-Blues band from Michigan with a slate of funky and jazzy blues originals and a whole lotta soul.
Genre: Blues: Blues Vocals
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Blues Will Take Good Care of You
5:21 $0.99
2. Root Doctor
5:40 $0.99
3. Keep Our Business Off the Streets
3:34 $0.99
4. Give Me Love
4:12 $0.99
5. Lucky One
3:53 $0.99
6. People Say
5:14 $0.99
7. Soul Shine
7:38 $0.99
8. Big Blue Cadillac
4:53 $0.99
9. Change Our Ways
6:21 $0.99
10. I Wish It Would Rain
6:08 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Root Doctor: Change Our Ways (Big O 2457; 52:58)

This blues-soul-funk quintet from Lansing, Mich., holds one's attention. Delta-born and raised Freddie Cunningham has texture and depth to his singing voice, and the other players (plus guests, like the Motor City Horns) exhibit a smooth, passionate resolve. The cause is further served by six built-to-last songs from keyboardist Jim Alfredson and makeovers of the Temptations' "I Wish It Would Rain" (quietly dignified with cello and violin) and Warren Haynes' "Soul Shine" (uplifted with background vocals fit for Sunday morning worship and a fine Greg Nagy guitar solo). 3 1/2 stars

Frank-John Hadley
Downbeat April 2008

"...I really like it [Change Our Ways]. The musical setting is really tasty and better than just solid, a sweet churchy/bluesy R & B sound. I especially like the title tune...It's an excellent CD..."
Dick Shurman
Producer and Historian
(Albert Collins, Johnny Winter, Robert Cray, etc..)

Root Doctor is finally starting to be recognized as one of the hottest bands on the international blues landscape. They've gotten solid press from the UK to France and Italy, to Wyoming, New York and Detroit -- and the accolades are all well earned.

This is a fantastic band. On their new disc, Change Our Ways (Big O Records), from the spectacular Albert King-inspired opener, "Blues Will Take Care Of You," to the funky "Keep Our Business Off the Streets" to the gospel and soul drenched "Lucky One," lead vocalist Freddie Cunningham and his mates don't just impress, they knock this listener right over.

"People Say" reminds more than a dab of the Meters, the original source of this killer funk tune, with a dash of Sly & The Family Stone thrown in the mix. Guitarist Greg Nagy shines on "Big Blue Cadillac," with bassist supreme James Williams and rock steady drummer Rick Bole laying a foundation thick enough to support a Mack truck. Keyboardist Jim Alfredson, who serves as the musical director of the band, serves up some sizzling B-3 here, too, and the guesting Motor City Horns burn it up on this track and elsewhere.

This one will definitely make my year-end Top 10 list. Whew!

--- Mark E. Gallo Blues Bytes Jan 2008

Root Doctor has a sterling soul-blues entry with Change Our Ways (Big O 2407).
Freddie Cunningham's faultless vocals are at the center of the songs awash
in Jim Alfredson's piano and Hammond Organ, seasoned with Greg Nagy's crisp
guitar, and buoyed by the right-on rhythms of James Williams and Rick Bole.
The band energizes well-selected material by the Meters, the Allman Brothers Band,
the Temptations, and Roy Hytower ("Root Doctor"), and pens excellent originals
such as "Big Blue Cadillac," the funky, upbeat "Blues Will Take Good Care Of You,"
the Delbert McClinton-esque "Give Me Love," and the deep soul ballad "Lucky One."
Terrific performances and production bring it all to life.

Tom Hyslop Blues Revue Feb/Mar 2008

Root Doctor cuts loose with a string of original songs on 'Change our Ways'

Trying to break new ground in a well-populated genre like the blues can be a dead end. But to inhabit a well-established style and really, really get it right - you can go a long way down that road, if you're up to the task.

This is how a band like Lansing's Root Doctor, despite the rural Southern world its name conjures up, finds itself moving forward in the 21st century and northward into a more citified, soulful and - especially with "Change Our Ways," just released - funk-laden sound.

Singer Freddie Cunningham and bassist James Williams are charter members of this long-lived outfit. But with drummer Rick Bole, a lean, in-the-pocket guitar stylist like Greg Nagy, and especially with the world-class Jim Alfredson on Hammond organ - turbo-charging the band's rhythm and melody chops - Root Doctor is like a new band.

They've got an airtight, punchy ensemble sound that's simply never been there before, and with "Change" - just as in their breakout "Long Time Coming" from last year - there's a new band's excited urgency.

Six of the album's 10 tracks were penned by band members, the first time originals have dominated a Root Doctor album. The propulsive "Blues Will Take Care of You" has become their set opener and something of a theme song; "Keep Our Business Off the Streets" is brightened by the Motor City Horns and a surprisingly churchy bit of vocal harmony.

The covers are choice, too: from the affable lechery of Roy Hytower's "Root Doctor" (a second theme song?) to the 180-proof funk of the Meters' "People Say," the luscious, sanctified vibe of Warren Haynes' "Soul Shine" to the CD's final cut - the Temptation's "I Wish It Would Rain," hushed down with twin cellos and Alfredson's switch to piano.

Alfredson's penetrating keyboard tone is like a high- voltage current running through "Change," reminiscent of the streak of street funk in Organissimo, his jazz trio. Cunningham sings as if somebody's cut him loose - whether he's exhorting us in the title track, winking in "Big Blue Cadillac" or simply singing his heart out in "Rain," you can almost hear the smile in his eyes.
Chris Rietz, Lansing State Journal

No sophomore jinx here. "Change Our Ways" is every bit as soulful as
the band's debut release "Been a Long Time Coming" with a little funk
thrown in for good measure. Once again Freddie Cunningham's vocals
take center stage with solid backing from the band, especially Greg
Nagy on guitar who knows how to work a groove without overworking it,
a rare thing in today's "blooz rock" saturated music scene. Special
guests The Motor City Horns add just the right touch of R&B to keep
feet tapping and heads swaying.

The big surprise this time out is the prominence given to Jim
Alfredson on Hammond B3. Alfredson, who has two releases to his own
credit, can play Saturday night funky on the Meters classic "People
Say" and moments later take you to Sunday morning services on the
band's cover of the Warren Haynes penned "Soul Shine," a version so
soulful it makes you want to drop an extra dollar in the collection

But the real story here is Freddie Cunningham. Anyone who thinks old
school soul died with Otis Redding need only give a listen to
Freddie's cover of the Temptation's "I Wish it Would Rain." Freddie's
vocals, combined with Jim Alfredson's arrangement, discover the
despairing emotional content of the lyrics only hinted at in the
original. Feeling bad never sounded so good.

"Change Our Ways" is one of my favorite releases of 2007 and should go
a long way toward bringing Root Doctor the national recognition the
band so richly deserves.

Mark Hillsman
Host of the Blues Blowout
Pirate Radio WIVI 96.1 FM
St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands

Change Our Ways, the new CD from Root Doctor showed up in my mailbox yesterday afternoon. I've had a chance to listen to it twice, and I'm knocked out.

On paper, Root Doctor shouldn't really flip my switch. I prefer down home blues, and these guys are clearly more "uptown." My taste in R&B leans toward southern soul, while these guys clearly draw a lot from their Michigan predecessors. When it comes to jazz, I prefer the kind that borders on avant garde, while Root Doctor clearly has a fondness for the smoky, blues-based jazz of Jimmy Smith and Big John Patton.

So why do I like this record so much? Because it absolutely bristles with energy and intelligence. The band clearly has huge chops, and they're not afraid to show them off – but never at the expense of the music. The songwriting is strong and varied and the performances are polished but never sterile. There are hints of Albert King and the aforementioned Jimmy Smith, but also Solomon Burke, Percy Sledge and even Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels!

Highlights abound on this beautifully produced and brilliantly programmed record. I'm particularly fond of "Give Me Love," which plays like a rousing R&B barnburner, but has a huge dose of country swagger to it. It's not hard to imagine Willie Nelson and his classic seventies band tackling this one. Another favorite is "Lucky One," co-written by our own Greg Nagy. This beautiful, gospel-drenched ballad would fit perfectly on one of Solomon Burke's recent comeback records. "Big Blue Cadillac" is a slab of deep funk featuring Greg's searing, Funkadelic-inspired guitar work and bruising horn work from the Motor City Horns.

Six of the ten tracks on Change Our Ways are originals, but the four covers are no mere filler. Warren Haynes' beautiful "Soul Shine" is given an anthemic arrangement, complete with an Allman-esque intro by Greg. You can practically see the lighters waving in the dark during this one. But to me, the most stunning cover on the record is Root Doctor's goose bump-inducing take on the Temptations classic "I Wish It Would Rain." Its spare, piano-led arrangement is tastefully augmented by mournful cello and violin, while lead singer Freddie Cunningham delivers one of the most soulful vocals this side of Muscle Shoals. Absolutely stunning.

Very highly recommended. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm gonna give this thing a third spin . . .
Jeff Konkel, Broke & Hungry Records
Living Blues Producer Of The Year

If your feeling down, Root Doctor certainly has the "blues for what ails ya!" The
band's latest release, Change Our Ways, has six original songs, and four excellently chosen covers that become addictive fast. With bluesy vocals by Freddie Cunningham, some jazzy Hammond B-3 by Jim Alfredson, the funky bass of James Williams, forceful and precise guitar licks from Greg Nagy and Rick Bole on the pumped-up drums, this Lansing, Michigan-based band is blazing a steady path through the blues scene.

"Blues Will Take Good Care of You" sets the tone with exceptional roots-based blues. The band's namesake song, a Roy Hytower favorite, is surreptitiously provocative, while "Give Me Love" - with its catchy beat and enthralling harmonica - has a more swing-blues sound. The Motor City Horns help take the Meters' "People Say" to a funky new level, while the Warren Haynes classic "Soulshine" climbs up the spiritual hill - the mixture of a slow Hammond introduction, the developed, soulful vocals and the background choir makes this song a religious experience. Bringing you back down to earth, the title track has a real street feel to go with poignant lyrics and a rockin' beat. The Temptations' masterpiece "I Wish It Would Rain" closes out Change Our Ways and it calms the mind and solidifies the incomparable talents of the doctors involved.

When your soul aches, just take what the doctor gives ya.

Emily Parks - Hittin The Note - Issue 56



to write a review

Jim Colando

All the details mesh perfectly to propel Cunningham's R & B/Bluesy voice into territory that Smokin' Joe Kubek's (one of the other performers at Lansing Blues Fest) never dreamt about. Tight. . . tight . . . tight. Album took me back to a now-vanished era in Detroit blues while revealing a path to tomorrow's blues sound.
My ears say, "Thanks!"

Julian Myrick

Root Dr is COOL
This is some of the best listening music you will find Combining covers and well written Original songs. Crafty guitar sounds, B3 you will love and warm meaning full vocals The real soul comes from a dynamic duo bass and drums always doing it correctly and a dance able groove These young people can swing cook and rock I throughly both of there CD offerings
Julian Myrick

Al Hill

Get It!
Folks, if you love good R&B with a great soul singer and a top notch road tested band, get this record. No silly over-the-top posturing here, just GOOD blues and soul, the kind that made you love it in the first place.