Record Review: The Immediate Family Keeps It All Relative with ‘Skin In The Game’

Immediate Family - Courtesy image
Immediate Family - Courtesy image

The Immediate Family
‘Skin In The Game’
Quarto Valley Records

Record Review by DAN MACINTOSH

Necessity is oftentimes the mother of invention, which is certainly the case with The Immediate Family.

These guys began as studio musicians, originally brought together to first back up artists like Linda Ronstadt and James Taylor in the studio, and then eventually also go out on tour with these musical icons.

Now, many decades later, they’e actually a legitimate band together. With Skin In The Game, they have created a full-length that incorporates their well-developed songwriting and instrumental skills. Best of all, their faces are on the album cover, as well as having their names on the credits.

It’s tempting to compare these new recordings with hit songs these musicians have famously performed on previously. If you do so here, you’ll probably think of Don Henley’s “Dirty Laundry” when listening to one called “24/7/365,” especially due to a similar rhythm and keyboard part. The Immediate Family’s guitarist Danny Kortchmar cowrote “Dirty Laundry” with Henley, so the comparison is logical and relevant.

This is an all-star band that also includes Leeland Sklar (bass), Russ Kunkel (drums), with Waddy Wachtel and Steve Postell joining Kortchmar for a three-guitar assault. The new album, the group’s second full-length, opens with “Whole Lotta Rock And Roll,” which has a groove that comes off like Mike Campbell (guitarist with Tom Petty’s Heartbreakers)-meets-ZZ Top. Yes, these seasoned musicians can still rock!

The group also reveals a clear comfort level with ballads, especially on one titled “Fragile Heart,” which is written and sung like a Warren Zevon (also a luminary these players worked extensively) slow one. “Party in the Graveyard,” with its intentionally morbid lyrics, also strongly evokes Zevon.

Naturally, the musicianship is top of the line throughout. After all, these guys were the go-to players for much of the best 1970s California rock. Better still, they’e friends and collaborators that groove together especially well. These pros could have just as easily taken the easy way out and thrown together an album of well-known older songs they all played on together. Instead, they did the harder work of creating new songs. Really good ones, too. If you appreciate classic California Rock N Roll, this album is an essential addition to your collection.