Potlach, Message From A Drum, Cycles
Redbone was a Los Angeles-based band led by Native American Pat and Lolly Vegas, both lead singers who had previously worked under their own names, appearing in the 1965 film It's a Bikini World prior to forming Redbone, an all-Native band, at the encouragement of Jimi Hendrix.
Their first success with Redbone came in 1970 with ‘Maggie' on Epic. 'The Witch Queen of New Orleans' did somewhat better the next year, and 'Come and Get Your Love'—a single that peaked at number five on the Billboard Hot 100 and went platinum—gave them their greatest exposure. It would also be the band's last hit, though they continued to record and perform on an intermittent basis. Their first of six Epic releases, “Potlach," is a strong follow-up to the self-titled debut the same year. The album-opener ‘Maggie' is a perfect example of their distinctive sound, a funky, highly rhythmic itch that gets under your skin; ‘Alcatraz' is a touching ballad with a seldom-heard Indian perspective. The segue on 'Chant: 13th Hour' from tribal chanting to Redbone-style funk predates Robbie Robertson's similar experiments by more than twenty years. "Message from a Drum" is the third Redbone album, released in 1971 — released in Europe under the name "The Witch Queen of New Orleans.” Wonderful guitar parts, swirling around, overwhelming, taking you far (‘Emotions'). Listen, relisten and listen again.
James Flemming Rasmussen remembers : “It was Pat and Lolly Vegas, who hired me to produce the string session. Pat and Lolly were friends of mine, I had known them, since I first came to Hollywood, in 1965. Pat and Lolly were at that time, playing on a Club in Hollywood, and in the daytime, we went in the studio, trying to make some music together. Later in 1969, I produced a hit record 'Echo Park,' with an artist called Keith Barbour. On that production, I hired the string session from LA symphony orchestra, and that way Pat and Lolly knew my work with strings. So a few years later, they recorded Witch Queen, then Pat they contacted me, to help them work with a string arrangement on that song.” The seventh Redbone album and last studio recording for the century, “Cycles,” came out in 1982. Pat and Lolly are still here but none of the other "classic" Redbone members. Much more disco oriented. It is an underrated record. I think it needs to be rediscovered because it contains some real gems (‘Gamble,' 'Don't say no'). I ask myself if their loss in interest, from the public at that time, came from the fact they were taking positions for Indian Rights (with the single 'Wounded at Wounded Knee'). A special mention to the bass line on 'Dancing Bones.'