From the band roster, you might think they included everybody from both their previous groups in this one: they bring on eleven players, including horns and two drummers, when they take the stage. Group photos of the TTB may lead you to expect the barely-harnessed chaos of Joe Cocker’s Mad Dogs & Englishmen band, to toss out another live '70s album touchstone. Despite the hefty roster, this band doesn’t bludgeon the listener with a monolithic wall of sound, as the Cocker band could. TTBs approach is much more subtle, making effective use of quiet-loud/ebb-and-flow dynamics to keep their often-epic-length songs exciting.
Everybody’s Talkin’s eleven songs include three from Revelator that have become TTB concert standards: the flowing, soulful “Midnight in Harlem”; the wickedly grooving gospel of “Bound for Glory”; and “Love Has Something Else to Say,” sounding like the best Sly & The Family Stone cut since Fresh. Of the covers, seeing “Rollin’ and Tumblin’” on the set list might smack of cliché for a band with this one’s blues roots, until you hear the Allmanesque riff that drives this take on the Elmore James chestnut, breathing new life into a played-out standard.
Only on the sprawling slow jam “That Did It” (by Bobby “Blue” Bland) does the TTB come close to being one of those stereotypical “blooze” band, grinding out the same hackneyed riffs and tired changes as thousands of other crappy bars bands. This band ain’t about to let that happen here. Tedeschi’s scorching vocals and the band’s finesse and power make it into a smoking, go-for-broke workout. You know that friend of yours who turns up his nose at any blues recorded since Robert Johnson had to make good on his crossroads deal? This is the track you play for that “blues purist” knucklehead.
The Fred Neil title track, of which we needed another cover about as badly as we needed another rendition of “Stormy Monday,” is a real stunner, replacing the plaintive vocal and gently loping tempo of Nilsson’s hit version with the shuffling vibe of Bonnie & Delaney’s “Only You Know and I Know.” Their novel, spunky retooling of an overworked oldie of “Everybody’s Talkin’” leads to the notion that a full album of '60s and '70s covers might be a good step for Tedeschi and Trucks, if they ever come up short on original material.